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November/December 2019

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69th Annual Meeting Held Page 4:

Best Place to Work

DRN ReadiTech Named to Prairie Business List Page 6:

BAND: Work Smarter & Harder



By Kent Schimke

DRN ReadiTech General Manager/CEO

I am happy to share my 2018 Annual Report with all the members. A huge thank you to everyone who made our 69th Annual Meeting a success: EPS, SRCTC Culinary Class, Ellendale American Legion, EHS Choir, EHS SADD & Close-Up, and lastly all the DRN ReadiTech employees. 2018 brought another year of positive net margin and a strong financial position. Your cooperative’s effective and efficient operations along with its exceptional financial performance were amongst the deciding factors of the Board of Directors to pay back its members three million dollars in capital credits Ever-changing advancements in technology and members needs for more bandwidth to connect many devices, DRN has continued to invest in network upgrades, redundant fiber optic routes for added reliability, and fiber optic cable throughout DRN country to compensate for present and future growth. The regulatory environment creates both challenges and enhancements to DRN and the telecommunications industry. One enhancement that took place in 2018 was the ability to offer Broadband only. After many years of lobbying regulators and lawmakers, the FCC now understands and realizes the importance of broadband. We are now able to offer broadband without a landline and receive the necessary support for that broadband connection. In 1953, local industry owners formed an association the North Dakota Association of Telephone Cooperatives. The association was formed to represent local interests and to work with policy makers in both North Dakota and Washington D.C. The association has had much success over the years in creating a great understanding of the importance of the communications network within our state. As technology has advanced so have our networks.


With that said, in the fall of 2018 the association members gathered to brainstorm ways that they could work together to tell our new story of an advanced state-of-the-art fiber optic fed broadband network. The association name has changed and is now known as “BAND” or the Broadband Association of North Dakota. The change reflects how we are no longer simply telephone companies but are stateof-the-art technology companies committed to providing the members with the most advanced telecommunications/broadband services in the nation. Another successful statewide partnership DRN is a part of is Dakota Carrier Network (DCN). DCN provides highspeed, large bandwidth capacity circuits to business and organizations statewide, transported via DCN member company’s fiber optic infrastructure. In 2018-19 DCN was contracted by the state of North Dakota to provide a one gig connection to every school in the entire state. With the support of DRN and the other member companies, I am proud to say that one gig service is provided to all schools. I am also proud to say North Dakota is the first and only state in the nation that provides this service. Successful partnerships and cooperative efforts such as BAND and DCN are key to your cooperative’s strength and success. The DRN Board of Directors, management, and employees are committed to build and grow cooperative partnerships and relationships to continue to provide our members the most cost effective, reliable, state-of-theart services. Because of your patronage, the cooperative spirit lives on and continues to grow in DRN country. Your patronage and support drive our commitment to serve our members like the family, friends, neighbors we are as the DRN Cooperative. Thank you for being a member of the cooperative. Kent Schimke


Ray Peterson, Ellendale

Thank you to our door prize sponsors:

Edna Weispfenning, Fredonia

Stanley Dobler, Ashley


Leroy Musland, Edgeley

Richard Rodlund, Ellendale


Mary Filbert, Ellendale

James Glynn, Ellendale

Moss Adams

Della Pomplun, Ellendale

Kenneth Kellogg, Monango


Leroy O. Anderson, Fullerton

Edward Haase, Fullerton


Jesse Smith, Fredonia

Brad Sand, Ellendale


Kinzler Rocking K Farm, Monango

Darlene Sayler, Ashley


Diane Hehr, Fredonia

Mark Wagner, Monango

Vantage Point

Ilene Frauenberg, LaMoure

Robert Hardtke, LaMoure

NISC iGear

Kevin Isakson, Litchville

Wilma Flakoll, Forbes


James Deering, Fullerton

Gerald Grueneich, Ellendale

Farmers Union Insurance

Dawn Huffman, Ashley

Jon Lynde, Ellendale


Laurence Rall, Forbes

Georgia Schaefer, Ellendale


Anton F. Weigel, Edgeley

Vivian Hanson, Fullerton

Mitch Taggart, Ellendale

Christina Long, Berlin

David Robbins, Milnor

Shirlene Wagner, Ellendale

Leslie Hoffman, Ellendale

Rodney Zahn, Forbes

Andra Jenkins, Ellendale

Gordon Knoll, Venturia

Marvin Hansen, Guelph

Richard Kyllonen, Oakes

Wilbert Kinzler, Kulm

Shirley Fleming, Ashley

Don Flaherty, Ellendale

Donavon Bender, Venturia

Kevin Strobel, Kulm

City of Ellendale

Donald Nishek, Ellendale

Deloris Schroeder, Edgeley

Glynn Farms, Fullerton

Dennis Leppert, Merricourt

Marlene Meidinger, Ashley

Esther Retzlaff, Ellendale

DRN held its 69th Annual Meeting on Thursday, Oct. 17 at the Ellendale High School gym. Approximately 400 members and guests enjoyed a free dinner and there were 214 voting members present at the meeting.

Derrick Miller, Ellendale

Ralph Neu President District 7

Paul Olson District 8

Rod Buck District 11

An election of board members was held. Ralph Neu, of District 7, Nelvik and Venturia exchanges; Paul Olson, of District 8, Forbes and Merricourt exchanges; and Rod Buck of District 11, Oakes, Forman, Gwinner and Lisbon exchanges were all re-elected to a three year term.

Thank you to all who attended the Annual Meeting!


DRN READITECH NAMED ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO WORK DRN ReadiTech was recently named as one of the Best Places to Work in the Northern Plains by Prairie Business. Earlier this year, employees nominated organizations by submitting anonymous employeesatisfaction surveys, and Prairie Business used the survey results in selecting the 50 Best. The survey sought input on each employer’s benefits, workplace culture and employee morale, among other factors. Prairie Business this year received more than 1,400 nominations from employees from around the region. In 2018, there were approximately 1,300 nominations. “Each year, it seems we’re awed by the number of nominations we receive,” Prairie Business Publisher Korrie Wenzel said. “This year, it has happened again. And after reading through the nominations, it is hard not to be impressed by the passionate comments made by so many employees at these great companies.” Here is what one employee said about DRN ReadiTech, “DRN ReadiTech is an awesome place to work! Here I am part of a group of experts working together for the same goal, to help provide solutions to the surrounding communities. It can be a challenge to

bring the latest technology and security solutions to small town North Dakota, but it’s this challenge that keeps pushing each of us to excel and succeed as a team. We are a company that is heavy invested in improving the channels of communication that connect our members. The idea that what we do here improves our user’s ability to work and compete with other business at a national level is a great feeling,”—Anonymous DRN ReadiTech employee. Prairie Business is proud to present the results of the contest, which now is in its fifth year. “It takes so much to be a great place to work. Obviously, it’s more than just pay or vacation time,” Wenzel said. “This year’s winners are good examples of companies that are working hard to make work fulfilling. It’s nice to see that it’s happening in so many places in our region.” “I am greatly appreciative of DRN/ ReadiTech’s employees for selecting the cooperative as one of the 50 Best Places to Work. It is truly an honor to receive this award! If there were an award to be given for the best employee group, DRN/ReadiTech’s employees would have my vote for #1!”, said Kent Schimke, DRN ReadiTech CEO/General Manager.

About Prairie Business For more than 17 years, Prairie Business has served as the only business-tobusiness magazine dedicated to the Northern Plains region. More than 20,000 print and digital copies are distributed monthly. The magazine focuses on success and opportunities in North Dakota, South Dakota and western Minnesota and covers a variety of business topics including higher education, finance, architecture and engineering, agribusiness, energy, health care, economic development, tourism, technology and construction.

The 50 Best winners were honored in the September issue of Prairie Business, which is available online at prairiebusinessmagazine.com.



Visit the drtel.com website in December for the application.

DRN READITECH WELCOMES NEW STAFF DRN ReadiTech is pleased to announce the hiring of five new employees. “We are excited to welcome these new employees to DRN ReadiTech to meet the growing demands of our business,� said Kent Schimke, DRN ReadiTech CEO and General Manager. David Belgarde has joined the DRN ReadiTech team as a sales account associate. His previous employment includes an IT Director at Presentation College in Aberdeen and an Associate Director for Advanced Learning Technologies for the North Dakota University System. David also spend two years in China learning Mandarin. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, sports and home remodeling. David and his wife reside in Ellendale. Gage Holmstrom joined the ReadiTech team as a network assistant in the Lisbon office. He was born and raised in Lisbon. He previously worked for Bobcat in the IT department. In his spare time, he enjoys watching sports, golfing, snowboarding, playing video games and hanging out with friends. Gage currently resides in Lisbon.

David Belgarde

Gage Holmstrom

James Jenkins

Robert (Bob) Meyer

James Jenkins joined DRN ReadiTech as a outside network operations specialist in the Ellendale office. He previously worked installing hardwood flooring and maintenance at Prince of Peace. James resides in Ellendale. In his spare time, James enjoys spending time outdoors, hunting, fishing and sports. Robert (Bob) Meyer joined DRN ReadiTech as a network services assistant and completes locates. He previously worked as a construction coordinator for Midco. Bob resides in Ashley and enjoys spending time at his cabin with family and friends.

Terry Engel

Terry Engel has joined the DRN ReadiTech team as an accountant. She was previously a controller at an ophthalmology clinic in Fargo. In her spare time, Terry enjoys reading, hiking and spending time with her family. Terry resides in Oakes and works out of the headquarters in Ellendale.

Interested in joining our team? See our job openings online at drnreaditech.coop

DRN READITECH GIVES BACK DRN ReadiTech recently presented donations to area communities. A donation of $1,000 was made to the Ellendale Area Community Foundation. The donation will go into the endowment fund to be used to enrich the quality of life in and around the community. Earnings are used to support parks, schools and health facilities, along with recreational, educational and cultural activities. A donation of $1,000 was also made to the Oakes Area Community Foundation. The Oakes Area Community Foundation was established in 1998 through a generous gift from Frank and JoAndrea Larson. Since then they have awarded 83 grants, totaling $111,515 to nonprofit projects or programs in the area that work to improve the community and quality of life. In 2019 each gift, up to $100,000, is matched by Frank Larson. Each Community Foundation reviews applications annually and earnings from the donations are dispersed each year for the betterment of the areas. Each fund is managed by the North Dakota Community Foundation, a statewide public non-profit tax-exempt corporation. The NDCF was organized in 1976 to receive and distribute charitable funds to support a wide range of programs throughout North Dakota. The NDCF guarantees a perpetual existence for the fund and allows gifts to be fully tax deductible under law. A $1,000 donation was also made to the Sunset Park in LaMoure for improvements to the park.

Aaron Tschosik and Monica Mertz accepted the donation on behalf of the Ellendale Area Community Foundation from Kari Nishek, DRN ReadiTech

John Zetocha accepted the donation on behalf of the Oakes Area Community Foundation from Mary Lou Sundby, DRN ReadiTech.



Hilary Mehrer grew up like most North Dakotans– in a small town. She always knew when to come home. As soon as that evening whistle echoed through the town, she had better be walking through their door or she knew there would be trouble. And, if she wasn’t there, her parents always seemed to know where she was before she ever got home. “That’s just the way it is in small towns– everyone knows everyone,” Hilary said. “You can walk through town and pretty much every house is someone you either know as a friend or family.” Hilary knew she wanted her own kids to experience the same kind of community and closeness that she did. So when she married her husband Shannon and they started a family of their own, they settled in the small rural town they do today.

businesses, working remotely, and staying competitive in a global market. “The opportunities we can have in rural communities… they’re pretty much endless,” Kent said. Of course, nothing is made possible without hard work — a value that has been ingrained in the culture of North Dakota since the first families settled and tended to the land. You’ve probably heard the common phrase, “work smarter, not harder.” But, we’re North Dakotans. We always work hard. We don’t know any other way. The difference today, with the services of BAND and its member companies, is that North Dakotans can work smarter and harder; combining the strength of our work ethic with the resources of technology to make our businesses thrive.

as BOEING and NYC’s LaGuardia Airport. With a growing business and a growing family, the services from their local broadband provider, Dickey Rural Networks (DRN), allows them to remain to have the best of both worlds. Quality broadband allows us to be competitive in a national market while staying in small-town North Dakota,” Hilary said. For Amanda Johnson with Ag Resources in Maddock, the broadband services offered by the North Dakota Telephone Company (NDTC) allow her to conduct her work with farmers and those in the ag industry in a streamlined fashion, with quicker communication and better delivery service systems. Through the work that she does selling tractors and various farming equipment to farmers across the state, she is empowering farmers to work harder and smarter, too.

For many North Dakotans, like Hilary, growing up in a small town is an experience they hope to pass on. The sense of community, the connection to the outdoors, and strong work ethic make it a place where many North Dakotans want to raise kids of their own. They want them to be able to go out and play in the streets and know when the noon and six o’clock whistle blows that it’s time to come home. Of course, living in a rural area has its challenges, too. Kent Schimke, General Manager of Dickey Rural Networks in Ellendale, acknowledges that the challenges of rural areas are overcome by the cooperative spirit of the community. “It can be hard work to live in a rural community,” he said. “But that’s what rural communities do. We all support each other to be stronger and to continue to be able to live in those rural communities. The resources that BAND provides helps support those communities by connecting them to the rest of the world.” BAND, the broadband association of North Dakota, was formed 65 years ago with a mission to bring top-of-the-line communication technology to the communities across North Dakota. That mission has transformed from telephone party lines to today, where highspeed internet has become a necessity. Today, BAND represents 18 members companies, each working to bring quality broadband to their customers — no matter if they’re in town, or 30 miles from town. With the power of the internet at our fingertips, North Dakotans are now able to continue to live in the rural communities we love while building

Impact in Our Communities The stories that highlight the impact of broadband in our communities are all around us. In “Work Smarter and Harder” we hear just a few of these stories from towns like Epping, Forman, and Maddock, North Dakota. Gene Vandeberg, owner Of Sandhill Performance Quarter Horses near Epping, North Dakota, uses the services offered by Northwest Communications Cooperative (NCC) to take care of his horses. Before he had access to broadband that allowed him to check on is horses at night, Gene was often forced to get out of bed to go check on them himself. “I was lucky if I’d] get 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night, and checking on the horses took up to 45 minutes,” he said. “Now, I can look at the cameras to check on the horses, and I can be done in 10 minutes.” Four hundred miles away in Forman, North Dakota, Hilary and her husband Shannon run and operate Dakota Precision Fabricating, a metal fabrications manufacturer that provides services across the country to customers such

“With broadband, it makes our job easier to help farmers be better stewards of the land,” Amanda said. Building a Better Future with BAND These stories are why the work of BAND matters. Through our efforts to advocate and empower North Dakotans with quality broadband, BAND is keeping rural communities connected with the world. And what does this mean? It means North Dakota families like Gene’s, Hilary’s, and Amanda’s, can run a thriving business while enjoying the rural lifestyle they love and raising their kids with the values they cherish. Values like caring for your neighbor. Being kind. And of course, working hard. As the future continues to bring us further and faster into an age of technology, it’s more important than ever that we work harder — and smarter, too.

Learn more about BAND at broadbandnd.com.



TOP 10 PERSONAL CYBER SECURITY TIPS Protect yourself with these tips and become cyber aware. 1. Keep software up-to-date 2. Use anti-virus protection & firewalls 3. Use strong passwords & use a password management tool 4. Use two-factor or multi-factor authentication 5. Learn about phishing scams 6. Protect your sensitive personal identifiable information 7. Use your mobile devices securely 8. Backup your data regularly 9. Don’t use public wi-fi 10. Review your online accounts & credit reports regularly for changes To learn more on each step, visit readitech.com/tips-news



Less than 10 weeks left!


Microsoft will end extended support for these two systems on January 14, 2020. In less than 10 weeks, those still using Windows 7 and Server 2008 will no longer receive free technical support, software and security updates putting their computer at risk of viruses and malware. Immediate action required. 8

Call our experts today!

VACATION RATES FOR SNOWBIRDS Going south for the winter and wondering what to do with your telecommunications services while your gone? DRN offers vacation rates for customers who leave their residence for less than six months. Customers can lower their monthly bill by putting their services on vacation rate. Vacation rates are also available for packages. To put your service on vacation rate, simply call DRN to sign up or request online at www.drtel.com. A one-time service fee of $25 applies. There is no charge to reconnect within six months of placing service on vacation rate.

TOYS FOR TOTS DROP-OFF SITES Donate this holiday season to Toys for Tots. DRN ReadiTech is excited to host drop-off sites in our Ellendale, Lisbon and Oakes offices. The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. During 2018, our region of Toys for Tots supported 526 children with 2,640 toys distributed. Toys, stocking stuffers and books for ages newborn to 18 years old (still in school).

NEW DIRECTORY LISTINGS Ashley 288 David Hockensmith... 288-2413 Amy Feil..................... 288-3822 Crete 753 Joseph & Jessica McGuire ................................... 753-7105 Ellendale 349 Connie Babcock........ 349-3198 Rochelle Gosvener.... 349-3258 Darwin Nill................. 349-3879 Dale Schaible............. 349-4192 Edgeley 493 Elaine McGauvran..... 493-2856 Forman 724 Vicki Renner............... 724-3438 Vernon Thompson.... 724-3869 LaMoure 883 Ground North Coffee.883-4342 Roy Bushby................ 883-5327 Lisbon 683 Carol Opdahl Berg..... 683-2411 Dean Tapson............. 683-5846 Jud 685 Melvin Schroeder...... 685-2628 Kulm 647 John Woehl................ 647-2681 Marion 669 Connie Reiten............ 669-2538 Milnor 427 Patti Hesselbach....... 427-5621

Catch local winter sports action on BEK Sports and BEK Sports Plus+. Visit beksports.com to see a full schedule.

Oakes 742 Roger Wagner............ 742-3670 Tessa Boehrns.......... 742-3994


GET A HEAD START ON CHRISTMAS Increase your Internet to keep up with the holiday shopping, streaming, and visitors.

Drop your landline phone and sign up for Internet Only and be eligible to receive a Ring Video Doorbell! BENEFITS OF INTERNET ONLY • Earn capital credits in the cooperative • Save money with less fees • Only have service(s) you use • Gig capable router included


Answer the door from anywhere! Get instant alerts when visitors press your Doorbell or trigger the built-in motion sensors. Use the free Ring app to see hear and speak to guests from your smartphone, tablet or PC.

Still in a grandfathered Speed Pak? Upgrade to ANY current pak & receive a $100 bill credit.


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tr s e b to on s a e s e th

! y a d i l o h h c e t h g i Have a h 2019 TECH GIFT IDEAS Smart Wi-FI Plug - $16.98

Control electronics from anywhere using your tablet or smart phone. Turn devices on and off, create a schedule or set a timer using the Kasa app. For added security set an Away Mode to make it look like your home. Compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Tile - Combo pak $69.99

A bluetooth-enabled device makes everything findable. The Tile App “rings” your tile if it’s nearby. Can be set up with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri to find your Tile.

Apple Watch Series 5 - $399

The all new Always-On Retina display is always there for you. It monitors your health, helps you stay fit, and keeps you connected. And it tells time!

g n i tream

a L a L a L Fa

STAYING SAFE WHEN SHOPPING ONLINE More people are shopping online than ever before! It’s convenient to be able to order anything you like, and have it delivered to your door. Unfortunately, that also means there’s more risk. Scammers and criminals may try to steal people’s information and money when they shop online. The good news is that there are several simple ways you can take to protect yourself and shop safe online. Let’s take a quick look at some tips. First, never do your shopping on public Wi-Fi networks. Public Wi-Fi can have weak security and sending sensitive information like an address and credit card number over a public connection could expose that information to other people. Second, check out the reviews for the site and retailer before you commit to buying anything. You can easily check for scam reports by searching online at the Better Business Bureau. Third, use bookmarks rather than links to reach sites. Links can be spoofed, but when you keep a bookmark to your favorite shopping site, you won’t be redirected by a scammer. With some common sense and care, you can shop safe online and get more bang for your buck. Provided by InfoSec, ReadiTech SecurityIQ


READi TECH 9628 Highway 281 PO Box 69 Ellendale, ND 58436

This institution is an equal-opportunity provider and employer.


Happy holidays & for being a customer Our offices will be closed the following days for our staff to spend time with loved ones: Veteran’s Day • Monday, Nov. 11 Thanksgiving Day • Thursday, Nov. 28 Christmas Eve • Tuesday, Dec. 24 Christmas Day • Wednesday, Dec. 25 New Year’s Day • Wednesday, January 1


Profile for DRN ReadiTech

DRN ReadiTech Network Connections Nov/Dec 2019  

DRN ReadiTech Network Connections Nov/Dec 2019