In Touch Winter 2022

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Reflections of the Past – Paul Schuetzler

There were massive changes in the telecommunications industry during the past 24 years while I was with Consolidated. Thinking back to 1997, Consolidated was mostly a telephone cooperative serving the great folks of SW North Dakota. Soon plans were in place to add Dickinson to the Consolidated family, then we added Belfield, then Gladstone, and more outlying communities. This growth strengthened us during the many changes in the industry.

Consolidated began its conversion to a complete fiber network in the coop in the early 2000’s. A massive undertaking that would not only be time consuming and expensive, but that would set Consolidated’s network up for future products and services. This project was estimated to take seven years to complete, in reality it took 9 years to completely finish. But with the rollout of fiber Consolidated was able to not only offer telephone services but also video offerings and high speed internet services. Consolidated was now set up to offer the services our members would need for years to come.

In 2003 I was appointed GM of Consolidated. For the next 19 years we worked to provide our members with the best products, the best price, and the best service. We all shared in the vision of doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. I think we took it to heart when we didn’t measure up and we did all we could to be a cooperative with integrity and honesty at its core. I would like to thank the Board of Directors at Consolidated for trusting me to take the lead of the organization. During my time as GM the board has seen every district elect new board members (except one, Brenda). I can honestly say that they have all taken their roles and responsibilities seriously and really do want the best for the organization. As to our membership and customers, thank you all for your patronage. It has been an incredibly enjoyable 24 years with Consolidated.

Now is time to turn the reins over to someone new, Bryan has great ideas and I expect Consolidated will continue its legacy of growth and innovation into the future. I can’t say that I won’t miss it, but I will get to observe and reflect and know that I was once a part of this great organization. My wife has a little saying, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened ! ” Right now I look like the Cheshire cat. Consolidated I wish you well.

Bryan Personne started his work career at Consolidated in 1998 as Director of Human Resources. In 2003, he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer.

“The company has grown in size, from 63 employees to over 110 today, but the culture of the company has remained constant. We are a company of family, friends and neighbors, serving family friends and neighbors,” says Personne.

In the telecommunications industry, everything changes at the fast pace at which technology changes. We hire and train people with the right expertise to keep up with technology so that we can bring quality products and services to our customers.

Consolidated built a state-of-the-art fiber network which is the foundation of everything we are going to do in the future. The latest and greatest technology is constantly changing, and our fiber network gives us the flexibility to explore these services. Any company can purchase equipment and provide services but our employees set us apart from the rest. We do everything in our power to help of our customers in a timely manner. We want our friends and neighbors to have great service.

“Working for Consolidated for the last 23 years has been an honor and I am looking forward to serving in this new role, building upon the successes of the past,” says Personne.

A Publication of Consolidated Telcom 701-483-4000 • • Rhonda Fitterer, Editor Photo by Cory Ash Paul Schuetzler Bryan

2021 Toy & Food Drive

Thank you to all who donated to the 23rd annual Toy & Food Drive. This year, the drive was a huge success! We were able to distribute much needed household products and supplies as well as toys to the Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center which serves all of southwestern North Dakota. We were also able to contribute to Head Start, Kids Program and local food banks. I would like to thank everyone that donated to this year’s drive, your generous spirit has touch so many and made the holidays brighter. THANK YOU, and all of us at Consolidated wishes everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year !

CONGRATULATIONS to the WINNERS of the Apple iPad and the $50 Cornerstone Gift Card ! Go to, or our Facebook page for the winner’s names!

Every year at our Employee Appreciation Party, a SILENT AUCTION is held to raise money for area organizations. This year, Consolidated was able to distribute $4,000 in funds to Camp Recreation, Elder Care, Able of Hettinger, Bowman, and Dickinson, Sunset Senior Center, and Heartland Hospice. Our employees have a great time bidding up items and helping organizations at the same time!

NOTE these Channel Changes:

– Channel 53 Hillsong will now be TBN Inspire.

– Channel 112 ESPN Classic no longer available.

– Channel 193 GAC will now be GAC Family.

– Channel 241 DIY will now be Magnolia Network.

Welcome New Employee!

Kayla Reiss will help assist our residential customers with connecting and billing services. Kayla was born and raised in Dickinson and attended Trinity Catholic schools. Kayla and her husband, Mike, have 2 children, Dalton and Kiarra. She enjoys boating, fishing, horse riding and reading. “I’ve heard great things about working at Consolidated. I like working and meeting new people and new challenges.”


Ross Kuntz was promoted to Outside Plant Operations Manager on November 1st. He has worked for Consolidated for 28 years in the construction and plant departments.

Ross oversees the Construction technicians, Combination Technicians, Engineers, and Locators.

Ross, and his wife Phoebe, have 3 children, Blake, London, and Irelynn live in rural Dickinson.

Jeremy Witte was promoted to Network Operations Manager on November 1st. He has worked for Consolidated for 25 years in the Internet/Network departments.

Jeremy oversees the Network Technicians, Internet Technicians, and Cable TV Headend Technicians. Jeremy, and his wife Melissa, have 2 children, Jacob and Caleb, and live in Dickinson.

Karen Gawryluk was promoted to Administrative Services Manager on November 1st. Karen has worked at Consolidated for 23 years and oversees regulatory and payroll and the warehouse. Karen, and her husband James, have to 2 boys, Brent and Austin.

Michelle Dohrmann was promoted to Corporate Affairs/HR Manager on November 1st. Michelle works closely with CEO/GM and the board of directors as well as managing various HR duties. Michelle has worked at Consolidated for 21 years and has 2 children, Rylie and Ian.

Ross Kuntz Kayla Reiss Jeremy Witte Karen Gawryluk Michelle Dohrmann

Chocolate Caramels

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup white Karo syrup

1/8 tsp salt

3 or 4 squares unsweetened chocolate or 9 Tbsp. cocoa

2 cups cream (divided)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Combine sugar, syrup, salt, chocolate and 1 cup cream in large sauce pan. Stir mixture constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Gradually add remaining cream so boiling doesn’t stop. Cook to firm ball stage or 248 degrees. Remove from heat and add vanilla and nuts. Pour into a well buttered 9x13 pan to cool. After chocolate caramel has cooled, flip caramel out onto a cutting board and cut into desired sizes, then wrap individually in wax paper or candy foil. (Note: you may cut caramel in pan but it is easier to cut on a cutting board).

White Chocolate Puff Corn

1 square white almond bark

1 Tbsp. butter flavored shortening

1 bag white chocolate chips

1 bag puff corn


Put puff corn in a large bowl. In a microwave safe bowl, melt almond bark and shortening, about 1 minute to 1 1/4 minutes; stir until smooth and blended. Pour chocolate mixture over the puff corn. Mix until it is completely covered. Pour puff corn on wax paper and sprinkle with sprinkles. Leave on wax paper until set. Store in airtight container.

Chocolate Turtles

1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar 2 eggs (beaten) 6 Tbsp. cocoa 1 cup flour 1 tsp vanilla

Heat waffle iron. Cream sugar and butter together; add remaining ingredients to mixture and combine until all ingredients are well mixed. (Batter will be stiff). Drop batter about teaspoon size on hot iron, close cover and let bake 50 seconds to 1 minute. Lift off with fork and cool.

Optional: Sprinkle with powdered sugar or frost.

Holiday Chocolate Mice

1/4 block paraffin wax*

1 package semi sweet chocolate chips*

24 Hershey’s kisses

24 maraschino cherries with stems 48 slivered almonds slices

Red food gel

In a microwave safe bowl, melt paraffin wax and chocolate chips until smooth. Dip cherries in chocolate and attach to Hershey’s kiss and place 2 almonds (ears) in between cherry and kiss right away. Place mice on wax paper to cool and continue until you have all mice made. Once the chocolate is set, take red food gel and place 2 small dots for the eyes.

*substitution: chocolate almond bark can be used instead of chocolate chips and paraffin wax

Homemade recipes made easy on TV with your chef hosts Laverne & Rhond a ! Note to All Home Cooks! Send in your favorite recipes by either method listed below and become part of the Cooking Crave TV show! Laverne & Rhonda will share your favorite recipes with their viewers! 1. visit Website at: 2. Mail to: Consolidated/Rhonda Fitterer PO Box 1408 Dickinson, ND 58602 Business Phone Systems Call today 483-4000 •

Cable TV Costs Explained

Over the past decade, broadcasters have abused outdated rules to boost their bottom lines. To this day, they continue to threaten viewers with blackouts. Retransmission consent fees (“retrans fees”) are the payments that TV distributors (cable, satellite, and other TV providers) make to broadcasters to carry their TV channels. Retrans fees are a relic of a time before the Internet. Consider that:

• Retrans fees were established by the 1992 Cable Act

• The rules were written at a time when most of us had only one choice for pay TV service

• Today, we have multiple TV options, but our video rules are still based on the old model of only one pay TV provider

Making a bad situation worse is “Reverse


National broadcast networks are forcing local stations to charge higher retransmission consent fees and demanding a cut of the profits. Retrans fees were intended to support local broadcast journalism, but station owners in faraway places are stripping resources from local communities to fatten their profits. If the demands for higher fees are not met, broadcasters yank their signals from consumers, leaving you without your favorite programming indefinitely. Broadcaster’s blackout their channels until their ransom demands are met. And when they are, it results in much higher prices to you the consumer. Big broadcasters are paying an army of Washington lobbyists to keep the current retrans fee system in place because they want to continue to charge higher and higher fees for their programming. Despite tremendous changes in how consumers watch TV, the rules governing the video marketplace have stayed the same.

The “Big 4” networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX) provide programming such as morning and nightly national news shows, some daytime dramas and prime time and late night shows. That programming is then shown by their owned and operated (“O&O”) stations or their affiliate stations.

Cable and satellite TV providers already pay more than a quarter billion dollars in royalty fees each year for the programming content carried by these broadcast stations. Retransmission consent fees are charged in addition to these payments, meaning that Pay TV subscribers are essentially being charged twice to watch the same content.

How does Retrans lead to Blackouts?

Who Wins?

Broadcast Networks hold all the cards and win every time. Retrans fees are soaring – the fastest rising part of the monthly Pay TV bill. The fact that there are so many choices for Pay TV (and the same old video rules) enables broadcasters to play Pay TV companies off of one another and jack up the rates. When broadcasters can unilaterally blackout their programming and harm consumers with impunity, they are guaranteed to win.

Pay TV companies want to give their customers the programming they love, but in order to do so, they have to either pay the exorbitant amounts networks demand or put their customers at risk of a blackout.

Who Loses?

The broken retrans system is a lose-lose situation for consumers. Broadcasters abuse retrans rules and blackout innocent consumers until they get what they want. Pay TV subscribers are caught in the middle, they either experience TV blackouts when a broadcaster blacks out programming, or they see higher bills when companies give in to broadcaster’s demands – retrans fees are the fastest rising part of the pay TV bill. Either way, broadcasters are giving consumers the shaft.

On January 1, 2022, Consolidated will implement the following TV price changes:

· Essential Package: No change

· Elite Package: Increasing $3 50/mo

· Premier Package: Increasing $4.25/mo

· Premium channels (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, STARZ): No change

· Local Network Retransmission: Increasing from $22.04 to $24.68/mo Covers the cost of providing ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX.

Since 2009, retransmission consent fees charged to Consolidated by local Networks have changed by over 2,649 percent ! Consolidated feels that you have been paying TOO MUCH for these channels, which are available for free over the airwaves. To voice your concer ns contact North Dakota’s local Congressman Kelly Armstrong and the local affiliates to let them know these price increases are unfair.

Washington Office: Congressman Kelly Armstrong 1740 Longworth HOB Washington, DC 20515 Phone: 202-225-2611

Bismarck Office: Congressman Kelly Armstrong 220 East Rosser Ave Federal Bldg. Room#228 Bismarck, ND 58501 Phone: 701-345-6700

KXMA (CBS, CW) Tammy Blumhagen

1811 N 15th Street Bismarck, ND 58501 Phone: 701-223-9197

KQCD (NBC, FOX, MeTV) Barry Schumaier 200 N 4th Street Bismarck, ND 58501 Phone: 701-255-5757

KBMY (ABC, Xtra, Justice) Joshua Rohrer Phone: 701-241-5338

With so many choices, why choose your local TV Provider?

It’s not complicated. We are your one-stop shop for communication services in your community We offer a wider variety of services and extended discounted rates when you choose multiple services. We are your friends and your neighbors, and sometimes even your family! As a member of your community, we care about the quality of the service we bring to you, and we appreciate you and your business.

Fees for TV Service 4
Since 2009, the retransmission fees charged to Consolidated by local Networks: 2009 – $1.00 /mo / subscriber 2017 – $ 8 .19 / mo / subscriber 2022 – $ 2 4.68 / mo / subscriber 5

Battery Backup Power

NOTICE to Customers

Backup Power for Residential Voice Telephone Services during Power Outages:

For many years, your home telephone would allow you to stay connected to emergency voice services during a power outage. However, we have upgraded our facilities and now your telephone service may be provided over fiber optic or cable modem, rather than the traditional copper-based line. These technologies require backup battery power to allow your telephone service to continue functioning during a power outage. To avoid a disruption of home voice service during an outage, and to maintain the ability to connect to 911 emergency services, Consolidated Telcom provides you with a battery for the backup power for your residential voice telephone service at the time of the initial installation at no additional cost.

What Your Battery Can - and Can't - Do for You:

The backup battery provided by Consolidated Telcom allows you to continue to use your home voice services during a power outage. Without a backup battery or alternate backup source such as a generator, your residential telephone service will not be able to make any calls, including emergency calls to 911. The only way to maintain the ability to use your telephone is by using some form of backup power. Our backup battery does not provide power to any services other than voice. Home security systems, medical monitoring devices and other equipment will not run on a residential voice telephone backup battery.

Instructions for Proper Care and Use of Your Battery:

If you do not place your battery correctly, it may shorten its useful life. Environmental factors such as temperature

can shorten your battery's useful life. We recommend that you place your battery above 41°F and below 104°F. They will not last forever and should be replaced every 3 to 5 years, or when the indicator light for the battery shows that it is low or out of charge. You should also periodically unplug your battery backup from AC power to test your battery/cable modem to verify both the operation of the backup battery and its condition. Please remember to plug the AC back in after this test.

Provided Backup Power Duration:

The backup power duration differs based on the technology that provides your telephone service to your home. See below:

✓ Fiber Optic / Cable Modem — backup batteries are expected to last at least 8 hours on standby power.

Replacement Options:

As previously noted, a backup battery has been provided by Consolidated Telcom during the initial installation. However, the battery provided by our company may need to be replaced every three or five years or when the battery is no longer functioning.

Consolidated Telcom provided replacement backup batteries: Consolidated Telcom will provide and install at no cost to you, a replacement backup battery, upon appointment, when it becomes known that the battery needs to be replaced. A 24-hour battery is available upon request. If you have any questions, please call 701-483-INET (4638), toll free 888-873-4638 or email

Winners of The 2021 Great Pumpkin Hunt !

Congratulations to the Olheiser Family of Dickinson! Consolidated and 28 local businesses put together a prize package worth over $2,600 to the lucky person(s) who could find The Great Pumpkin. This year’s Great Pumpkin was found among the trees and rocks between Northwest Tire (rubber farm) and the Heart River east of Dickinson past the old Queen City Club on E. Villard Street. Thank you to all area business that helped with donations for the GRAND PRIZE. We are already thinking of spots to hide for next year !

Pictured L to R : Ryan, Liz, Madison and Grant Olheiser

High School Students

Consolidated has invested in our youth through a scholarship program for over 33 years. The purpose of our scholarship program is to assist students from the communities we serve to further their education.

• The eligibility requirements for the Scholarship Program are:

– Students who will graduate in the year the scholarship is awarded.

– Parents receive Phone, TV, and/or Internet service from Consolidated.

– This year’s essay topic is: “How do social media, texting, cell phones, and the Internet make the world bigger? Smaller?”

• Scholarship applications can be downloaded from, available from your high school counselor, or can be picked up in person at our main office at 507 S. Main Ave. in Dickinson. Scholarships need be postmarked by March 3, 2022 or delivered to our office, 507 S. Main Ave, Dickinson.

Shawn Burns Receives The 2021 Eagle Award

The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS), in cooperation with NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, seeks to sustain and enhance the quality of life in America by advancing an understanding of rural issues. Through its various programs and initiatives, FRS strongly supports the continuing education of rural youth. The FRS Scholarship is for students who will graduate in the year the scholarship is awarded and whose parents receive Telephone, T V, and/or Internet service from Consolidated Telcom. The scholarship is awarded by the NTCA scholarship selection committee from a nationwide base of students.

To apply for the FRS Scholarship, go to scholarships and click on the link to set up an account and submit application on-line.

CEO/General Manager, Bryan Personne, presented the prestigious Eagle Award to Shawn Burns at the Employee Appreciation Social on December 10, 2021. “It’s a challenge to pick just one employee each year from the many who are nominated, who meet all the qualifications to become an Eagle Award Winner, when our company has exceptional employees,” Personne says.

Shawn has been employed with Consolidated since 2011 and is considered a roamer tech in the South areas. He helps where needed to get the workloads completed with the customers’ best interests in mind. Shawn has always had a good attitude and is a team player when called upon to help in areas from Rhame to Mott. He thinks ahead when other techs are scheduled out of the office and will have a plan where he can fill in and help.

Shawn serves on the Scranton Volunteer Fire Department, and is active with the Scranton Golf Course. On behalf of the Consolidated management team and board of directors, thank you Shawn for a job well done!

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483-4000 or 888-225-5282 Consolidated Channel 18 Order Consolidated Cable TV & get LIVE local sports!
Scholarship Program ! 2022 Consolidated Scholarship Program!
Shawn Burns
P.O. Box 1408 Dickinson, ND 58602 8 2 0 22 Consolidated PROGRAM S ee page 7 for information!
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