Youth Discuss Distracted Driving

Hardy Telecommunication’s Youth Advisory Board took an in-depth tour of Hardy’s Lost River headquarters during a meeting on December 22, and the group also discussed the dangers of texting while driving.

Hardy Project Manager Bobby Armistead explained the capabilities of the company’s central office switch, which essentially is the brains of Hardy’s operation. The central office switch is the mechanism that routes all calls to their appropriate location. Hardy currently is installing a new Metaswitch unit, which is software-based and will greatly enhance the calling features and other services that Hardy can offer.

Members of Hardy’s Youth Advisory Board (from left: JoBeth Delawder, Stephen Hott, Ashley Dove, Tyler Bradfield, Tressa Parker, and Garrett Keller) listen to Hardy Project Manager Bobby Armistead (far right) explain the battery back-up system Hardy uses to ensure continuous service.

With the Metaswitch, a person can have one telephone number but have that number connected to several phones, including a mobile, home, and business phone.  A call would ring to each of those phones in whatever order the customer wishes, and then transfer to voice mail if the customer does not answer.  The students were given a list of the new features that will be available with the new central office switch.  All of the technology making the enhanced services possible is housed in the Metaswitch, which takes up a fraction of the space of Hardy’s existing switch, Bobby said.

Bobby then led the group to Hardy’s battery room, which houses the batteries used as back-up power in the event of an electrical power outage. The electricity needed to power Hardy’s machinery is somewhat like running your clothes dryer 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.  The equipment generates so much heat that air conditioners must run around the clock or else the batteries may overheat.

After the tour, the students watched a documentary short film titled “Distracted: The True Story of Ashley Umscheid”.  Umscheid was a 19-year-old Kansas State University freshman who was killed in May 2009 when her vehicle crashed along a Kansas road. The investigation revealed that she had been sending text messages on her cell phone while driving. The Foundation for Rural Service released the film in an effort to warn teens about the dangers of distracted driving.

Board member JoBeth Delawder, a Moorefield High School freshman, said the film had a valuable lesson for young drivers.

The purpose of the Youth Board is to educate the students about Hardy Telecommunications and its operations as well as to get information from the students as to what uses of technology are most important to them. The group discusses different Hardy services, including telephone and Internet, with the goal of offering services that today’s youth most value.  This year’s board is comprised of eight students, four each from East Hardy and Moorefield high schools, representing grades 9-12.  Each student will serve a one-year term.  The board meets four to five times throughout the school year.

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