The Digital Divide

The “digital divide” is the gap that exists between individuals advantaged by the internet and those individuals disadvantaged by lack of access to the internet. The divide has widened as technology has advanced with the advent of next generation fiber optic broadband that can make 1 GB broadband speeds available. The growing gap disproportionately affects rural areas as rural residents have few choices of internet service providers – or none at all. They pay higher prices for lower quality service.

For small towns, having high-speed Internet can be a critical factor in growth and prosperity (https://broadbandnow.com/report/10-small-towns-with-blazing-fast-internet/). Studies have shown that increased Internet access has a positive effect on employment and economic growth in rural townships. Tullahoma, Tennessee was the focus of a study by Allan Holmes of the Center for Public Integrity in 2015, which drew attention to the huge benefits that next generation fiber optic broadband access brings to small towns.

The positive results on job growth speak for themselves: Employment in Tullahoma lagged statewide job growth before next generation fiber optic broadband was turned on. Since the recession ended in 2009, two years after the city began offering broadband, the city has outpaced job growth in Tennessee. The city added 3,598 jobs from April 2009 to April 2014, a 1.63 percent annual growth rate, about double the statewide rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

According to Holmes, Tullahoma is one of the battlefronts in a nationwide war that telecommunications giants are fighting to undermine the spread of next generation fiber optic broadband networks. For more than a decade, AT&T, Comcast, and CenturyLink Inc. have spent millions to lobby state legislatures, influence state elections and buy research to try and stop the spread of Internet services that often offer faster speeds at cheaper rates (https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2014/sep/02/tullahoma-fr...). The companies have succeeded in getting laws passed in 20 states that ban or restrict municipalities from offering Internet to residents.

Holmes found that by far, AT&T is the company with the most political influence. In Tennessee, AT&T spent between $250,000 and $300,000 in 2014 hiring 15 lobbyists, ranking it among the largest spenders, according to the Tennessee Ethics Commission. AT&T's political action committee (PAC) is also the biggest donor among telecommunications companies to state campaigns nationwide. Since 2000, its donations more than tripled to $13.6 million in the 2012 election cycle, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which tracks campaign contributions in the states. Comcast, the second-largest campaign contributor among telecommunications companies in Tennessee, has upped its PAC giving from about $3,200 in the 2004 election cycle to a record of more than $270,450 in the 2012 cycle, according to the money in state politics institute.

Their influence doesn’t stop in Nashville. Franchise agreements, such as the 20 year agreement Union County entered into with Comcast in 2005, resulted in higher fees for subscribers, no requirement for access for areas of less than twenty (20) dwelling units per mile, burdensome requirements for developers, and specific exclusion of “that portion of Union County north of Norris Lake.” The “cherry picking” of high density areas and favorable permitting requirements for cable deployment discourages other providers from entering the market. Although the 5% of gross receipts in franchise fees may have seemed attractive to elected officials at the time, the little over $30,000.00 annual payment to the county pales in comparison to the estimated $1M in additional annual property tax revenues that would have come from full development, encouraged by the availability of high speed broadband service, of just two communities in Sharps Chapel, Norris Shores and Sunset Bay.

While the telecom giants are battling to restrict competition, rural communities are being economically crippled by the lack of broadband access. In Tennessee’s rural regions, 34 percent of residents lack access to basic internet, according to a report released in July 2016 by the Tennessee Department of Economic & Community Development (ECD). That disparity weighs on the state’s overall connectivity ranking, now at 29th in the nation, and its ability to improve rural economies. Among the 34 percent are many who simply cannot afford the costly monthly bill for service. The collective deficit in opportunity, education and prospects–everything implied in “being connected”–further separates urban and rural Tennessee into haves and have-nots. According to former ECD Commissioner Randy Boyd, “If we ever want our rural communities to be able to compete and have a chance for success in the future, we have to eliminate that divide. That’s why rural broadband is so critical to our state’s future and the future of our rural communities.”

Participating businesses in this 2016 study reported that broadband enabled 43 percent of all net new jobs and 66 percent of revenues. Additionally, 34 percent of businesses indicated broadband was “essential to selecting their location,” and 56 percent claimed a high-speed connection was essential to remain in their location. Sixteen percent of economic development agencies reported that businesses frequently chose not to locate in an area due to insufficient broadband and realtors say it’s much more difficult to sell homes that aren’t connected. In Tullahoma, if you have fiber optic at a house, your house increases in value anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000 (https://www.tullahomanews.com/news/local/grant-funds-could-expand-broadb...).

The lack of broadband and the advantages it brings to a community is forcing many young people to move away. According to the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, Union County is experiencing population decline that began in 2011, and without intervention the population decline is expected to extend beyond 2040. Union County is also experiencing out-migration, mainly among 20 – 29 year olds. Union County’s negative population growth and out-migration brings with it severe negative economic consequences including fewer workers available to businesses, fewer customers to buy their goods and services, and a shrinking tax base all resulting in a severe impact on the finances of government. A lack of internet access hurts businesses, hinders education, prevents people from getting jobs, and can even be life-threatening, as emergency services increasingly rely on internet-connected communications and documentation.

Educators have been talking about the “digital divide” for two decades, and while some progress has been made in closing the gap, inequities persist in communities across the country (http://neatoday.org/2016/04/20/the-homework-gap/). Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) points to the so-called “homework gap,” or the barriers students face when working on homework assignments without a reliable Internet source at home. This gap has widened as an increasing number of schools incorporate Internet-based learning into daily curriculum. In 2009, the Federal Communication Commission’s Broadband Task Force reported that approximately 70% of teachers assign homework requiring access to broadband. In addition, about 65% of students used the Internet at home to complete their homework, which could include submitting assignments, connecting with teachers and other students through group discussion boards, working on shared documents as part of a group project and doing online research for a school paper. The homework gap forces students to head over to a neighbor’s house, the library or a commercial parking lot with free Wi-Fi access to complete their homework. Many students are simply unable to finish the work. According to a recent study from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Family Online Safety Institute and My College Options, nearly 50% of students say they have been unable to complete a homework assignment because they didn’t have access to the Internet or a computer. Furthermore, 42% of students say they received a lower grade on an assignment due to lack of Internet access. Lack of Internet in Union County has most definitely impacted school performance with SchoolDigger.Com ranking the Union County School District 116th of the 124 Tennessee school districts.

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Operation Christmas Child Event Set for Sept. 18

Operation Christmas Child Event Set for Sept. 18

Operation Christmas Child by Samaritan's Purse, that yearly effort to pack shoeboxes full of necessities for children in some of the world's most threatening situations, is a blessing for the recipients and donors alike.

Just ask Amie Winstead, Area Coordinator for the Operation Christmas Child Cumberland Pathway Team. She's been packing shoeboxes for nine years, and she says the effort "allows us to be foreign missionaries without leaving our hometowns."

Barbecue Event Upcoming for FFA Homecoming Candidate

Future Farmers of America homecoming queen candidate Savannah Jones

Savannah Jones is running for Union County High School's homecoming queen, representing the Horace Maynard Chapter of Future Farmers of America. But she's not in the competition for the glory or the crown. She's in it because she believes in the FFA and the benefits it gives students. The money she raises as a homecoming candidate will go right back into the FFA program.

Norris Lake Five County Cleanup

Norris Lake Cleanup at Oak Grove

The Norris Lake Project Team is looking for volunteers to help with the Fall Five County Norris Lake Cleanups on September 22nd, 29th and October 6th. “Since 2011, volunteers from the counties surrounding Norris Lake have picked up over 200 tons of trash,” said Stephanie Wells, Director of the Anderson County Tourism Council.

4-H Chickens Auctioned

Golden Comet Winners l to r - Chesney, Richardson, Eubanks, Holt, Sexton, Malone, Smith, Farmer

It is common knowledge that 4-H is a club for kids to learn valuable skills and get their hands dirty. This summer, fifteen Union County 4-Hers were busy carrying water, cleaning cages, and gathering eggs as they indulged in the 2018 Poultry Project. They each received twenty chicks in early March and raised the birds from one day old to young laying hens at twenty six weeks old.

When God Speaks

Terry Kirby

In my years as a journalist, I have had the privilege of meeting many authors. Only a few of those acknowledged God as their inspiration and as the One who impressed them to seek a specific writing goal. Dr. Terry L. Kirby is one of those few.

Kirby is an expository preacher, has been a senior pastor for almost twenty-five years and holds a doctorate in Expository Preaching from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He says the Lord gave him the idea for a different type of Bible.

In the World, Not of the World?

Archie Wilson

(As part of a series entitled “Out of the Skillet and Into the Fire”)

John 17:16
“They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

Last time we concluded our 2-part article, JESUS FRIEND OF SINNERS, by pointing out that we should get out of our comfort zones and let our light shine. Someone’s life could be dependent upon you letting your light shine! If Jesus was a “friend of publicans and sinners,” shouldn’t we also do the same?

Crisp Molasses Cookies

Crisp Molasses Cookies

I like molasses. I remember when I was first married and living on the farm, Dad would sprinkle molasses on the milk cows' grain. They loved it. I was curious. The molasses was clean, so I tasted it. It had a better flavor than that you bought in the store back then or nowadays, for that matter. There was no reason not to use it, so I did. We ate a lot of gingerbread and molasses cookies until the molasses ran out. Of course, I didn't tell anybody where the molasses came from. Why bother? Nowadays, don't be concerned. I use Muddy Pond Sorghum when I can find it.

Cool, Man!

Ronnie Mincey

Mincey’s Musings
Year One, Week Thirty-Six

Many people follow the “five second rule”. It goes something like this—if something is dropped on the floor and remains less than five seconds, it is fine to retrieve for consumption by the human body. This holds especially true when referring to the last chip in the bag.

Jesus Picture

Jesus Picture

It’s not something I am too proud of, but I did it. Or rather I didn’t do it. You see, I got out of church for a while. After I started back, I realized I didn’t have any pictures of Jesus in the house. So, guess what I did next? Yep. I went Jesus picture shopping.

I looked at all kinds of Jesus pictures and none of them felt right. Finally, I found one that I really, really liked. That is until I looked at the price tag. You know, it just didn’t seem right to go in debt for it. I didn’t think Jesus would like that.

Identifying Pesky Poop

Bat Poop

I really enjoyed my career as a forester, partly because of the variety. It was rare that I did the same thing two days in a row. I could be walking in the woods collecting field data in the morning and be on a wildfire that afternoon. If you like routine, forestry is not for you. One unique task I did on occasion was identifying animal poop, especially when people would find droppings in their house and badly wanted to know what uninvited visitor left it.

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Events

Luttrell neighborhood watch

Thursday, September 20, 2018 - 19:00
Luttrell neighbourhood watch

Luttrell neighbourhood watch meeting every 3rd Tuesday at 7:00pm It takes place in the community building behind the library with speakers each month this can be a great tool for our community to assist one another in brotherly love by watching out for each other. If you need more information contact Jim Bailey at 865-809-4472

Thank you so much
Union County Sheriff's Office
130 veteran’s street suite B Maynardville Tennessee 37807
Phone 865-992-5212
Fax 865-992-2349

Free Eye Exams and Glasses!

Saturday, September 29, 2018 - 08:00

FREE EYE EXAM AND GLASSES AVAILABLE FOR UNION COUNTY RESIDENTS
(South Claiborne County, Washburn, Powder Springs, and Corryton also welcome)
Sponsored by the Union County Lions Club
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2018
8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
150 Main Street, Maynardville, TN 37807 (Union County High School)
BY APPOINTMENT ONLY!
Call Kathy Chesney at (865) 566-3289
Glasses will be distributed 2-3 weeks after this event.
Sponsored by the Union County Lions Club,
In conjunction with the Smokey Mountains Lions Charities.

Hogskin Festival

Saturday, September 29, 2018 - 11:00
Spinning wheel

On Saturday, September 29th, Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center will hold its 19th annual Hogskin History Day Celebration from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This event is family friendly and provides a fun way to celebrate the rich culture and history of our Hogskin Valley community in Grainger County. Event attractions include local musicians, artists, artisans, and historians; children’s activities; exhibits of alternative technology; tours of Narrow Ridge’s eco-friendly facilities and Natural Burial Preserve; a silent auction; good food; and a variety of local vendor and display booths.

Obituary

Melvin Corum

Melvin Corum – age 78 of Maynardville, passed away peacefully at his home with his loving wife of 60 years by his side on Saturday, September 15, 2018. He was a member of Fellowship Christian Church in Luttrell. He especially loved the yearly fall festival and The Life of Christ drive thru exhibit. Melvin was a dirt track race car driver and won many championship races during his career. His latest hobby was restoring vintage cars and trucks.

Glen C. Carmon, Sr.

Glen C. Carmon, Sr.-age 72 of Maynardville passed away Monday morning, September 17, 2018 at Willow Ridge Center. Glen was a member of Fairview Baptist Church and a U. S. Army Veteran. Preceded in death by parents, Thurman and Hester Carmon; brother, Ed Carmon; sister, Ina Carmon.

Survivors: son, Carroll Carmon of Maynardville; daughter, Jennifer Buckner and husband, Tony of Luttrell; three grandchildren, Kali Buckner, Caleb Carmon and Christian Carmon; sisters, Mary Campbell, Marie Johnson and Betty Williams, all of Maynardville. Several nieces and nephews.

George David "Dave" Murphy

George “Dave” David Murphy, Sr., age 63, of Powell went to be with the Lord on September 16, 2018. He was a member of Central View Baptist Church. He enjoyed farming, raising pigs, and working. He adored his grandchildren. He loved helping people, as he would give you his last of anything. He was a selfless man of God. Preceded in death by parents Hobert and Christine Murphy; and brother Phillip Murphy. Survived by his wife of 45 years Kathy Murphy; children David Murphy, Jr.

Ermon T. Bullen, Jr.

Ermon T. Bullen, Jr.-May 2, 1932-Sept 14, 2018 of Corryton, known by everyone as Junior Bullen originally from Washburn, born to the late Ermon T. Bullen, Sr and Hila Johnson Bullen. Preceded in death by the love of his life of 58 years, Mildred Marsee Bullen. Junior was an Army Veteran and retired maintenance man from Claiborne County Hospital. He also loved traveling with Mamaw, watching grandkids and great grandkids at sporting events, plays and such and faithfully attended church where he was a member at Union Missionary Baptist Church.

Carl Edward Fielden

Carl Edward Fielden, age 84 of Halls Crossroads, peacefully entered into his eternal rest in the presence of his Lord Jesus Christ on September 15, 2018. Saved by God's merciful grace as a young man, Carl was a faithful member of Emory Valley Baptist Church. He served his country in the United States Air Force, honorably. He retired from Fairmont Supply located in Nashville, Tennessee. Preceded in death by parents Hobert and Amy Fielden, son Greg Fielden, all of Heiskell, sister Ann Tudor of Manchester, sister Geneieve Humphrey and brother Rev. Glen Fielden, all of Knoxville.

Raymond Eugene Clark

Raymond Eugene Clark age 71, of Knoxville went to be with with his Heavenly Father on Thursday, September 13, 2018 at his home surrounded by family. He was a member of Texas Valley Baptist Church. Raymond lived most of his life in the Halls Community and was an avid sports fan of all Halls community and school sports teams. He was often thought of as the Honorary “Mayor” and Cheerleader of the Halls Community. Preceded in death by parents; Jack Raymond and Allene Wooten Clark. Survivors; sisters, Rosalee Clark Highland and Diane Clark Woods. Brother; Phillip David Clark.

James Warren "J.W." Hughes

James Warren "J.W." Hughes, age 82, of Halls Crossroads went to his heavenly home, Thursday morning, surrounded by his family. He was a member of Fairview Freewill Baptist Church. He served in the U.S. Army and retired from Jefferson Smurfit Corp. J.W. loved the outdoors; hunting, fishing and camping.

He is preceded in death by parents, C.M and Mary Hughes; and brother-in-law, Leon Spangler.

Mitchell Elvis Kitts

Mitchell Elvis Kitts-age 62 of Luttrell passed away suddenly Saturday, September 8, 2018 while away in Florida for work.

Mitchell was a Journeyman painter who took pride in his craft. He was employed by Larry Mitchell Painting Company. Over the years he coached his son’s youth baseball teams in the Knoxville Area. He was an avid fisherman and loved spending time with his boys on the lake.

Myrtle Anne Covington

Myrtle Anne Covington-age 59 of Sevierville passed away Sunday, September 9, 2018 at Physicians Regional Medical Center with her husband by her side. Those who knew Ann will remember her kindness and sense of humor. She was a member of Walnut Hill Baptist Church.

Velma Lozena Dyer Davis

Velma Lozena Dyer Davis, age 87, born at home on April 9, 1931 in Luttrell, TN and passed away on September 8, 2018 after losing her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She retired from Standard Knitting Mill. Velma was a member of Greenway Baptist Church for over 60 years and a member of the Golden Circle Sunday School Class. She loved her garden, especially picking and canning her green beans. Her life was spent caring for other people, especially her family who she loved with all her heart.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.