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Quarter 2 | 2020

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Future Proof Network Page 4:

BAND: Welcome to the New Rural Page 10:

Social Distancing Stay Connected



DRN ReadiTech General Manager/CEO

2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the cooperative and with it the longest lasting telecommunications cooperative in the state of North Dakota. 2020 also marks my 20th work anniversary with the cooperative, and I can honestly say that I enjoy and am very proud to serve the DRN cooperative and all its members! At its January 2020 meeting, the DRN Board of Directors approved a rate relief that included a month of free service for its broadband and telephone subscribers for the month of April. The relief was intended to help members through the economic strain of the suppressed farm economy which in turn effects all members. We have received many cards, letters, and e-mails of appreciation from members. Thank you DRN Board of Directors! The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to many businesses and families throughout DRN’s service area - challenges that have changed the way we interact with one another, the way we do business, the ways students are educated, etc. The DRN ReadiTech team has been very diligent in helping all members adapt and push through these many challenges/changes. DRN ReadiTech technicians connected over 90 student households throughout DRN’s service area with broadband in a two-week period. These households had not subscribed to broadband service prior and because of DRN’s 100% fiber to the home network, no student that resides in DRN’s service area will be left behind.


DRN’s robust 100 gig network is performing very well under the current pandemic circumstance and because of its innovative design has proven that DRN’s progressive approach and continued investment to serving members with exceptional telecommunication services is future proofed and capable of adding thousands more connections. Many other networks nationwide are experiencing congestion issues and poor connectivity, but because of DRN’s robust network and its partnership with Dakota Carrier Network (DCN) we have not and will not. Our COVID-19 Response Plan: •

offices closed to the public until further notice

employees working remotely from home

installs & repair calls continue to happen by technicians based on need and safety

we continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments based on CDC & state recommendations

I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the DRN membership for all their support and understanding in this period of pandemic! Rural North Dakotans are resilient, and we will get through this and we will do it together! Sincerely,

Kent Schimke

SMART FARM COOPERATIVE: Technology & Agriculture

Farms and ranches operate far differently than those a few decades ago, primarily because of advancements in technology, including sensors, devices, machines, and information technology. Today’s agriculture routinely uses sophisticated technologies such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial images, and GPS technology. These advanced devices, precision agriculture and robotic systems allow businesses to be more profitable, efficient, safer, and more environmentally friendly. DRN ReadiTech has partnered with several local agricultural agencies and businesses to create a Co-op Farm, located north of Ellendale just south of DRN ReadiTech’s headquarters. Cooperating members include James River Soil Conservation District, Green Iron Equipment, JD Farms, Farmers Union Oil, AgriMax, Fullerton Farmers Elevator, NDSU Extension, and Southeast Region Career and Technology Center. These partners have been collaborating with DRN ReadiTech on ways to showcase various technology that is currently being used in agriculture.

“DRN ReadiTech owns eight acres of hay land that needed to be broke up and replanted,” said Kent Schimke, DRN ReadiTech CEO/general manager. “We decided the best thing to do was to form a team of experts, devise a plan that could showcase how technology is being used in agriculture and host educational events.” For the 2020 growing season, various cover crops will be planted. “The goal is to demonstrate how the soil nutrients change by utilizing different crop mixtures,” said Dean Rithmiller, Co-op Farm chairman. Farmers Union Oil agronomists will conduct the soil samples two to three times during the growing season. “We will be including cover crops that will be friendly to pollinators and wildlife as well,” said Rithmiller. Technology being incorporated into the farm include drones, GPS, weather stations, cameras and soil sensors. A website will be created to incorporate the data from the various technology. DRN plans to host several plot tours and educational events throughout the summer/fall. Watch for more details in your local newspaper and the Co-op Farm website:


You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting so...get on your way. - Dr. Seuss Although your senior year didn’t end as you had hoped - your years of hard work have paid off. Best wishes for a successful future from all of us at DRN ReadiTech.



HOW BROADBAND MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR DIVERSE INDUSTRIES TO THRIVE IN RURAL NORTH DAKOTA What do you see when you picture rural North Dakota? Perhaps a farmer stepping down from his tractor cab, gazing upon acres of outstretched wheat fields, or the silhouette of an oil rig emerging from the horizon. But what about a long-haired rocker-turned-guitar instructor teaching millions of musicians from his home in Kindred? Or a woman working to save the small-town newspapers across the state? While they may not come as quickly to mind when envisioning rural North Dakota, industries like music and media are rapidly becoming as integral to our state’s landscape as agriculture and energy. They are the New Rural, and they are powered by broadband.

Reaching a Global Audience Steve Stine’s childhood home in Fargo was filled with music: his mother was an avid country fan, while his father gravitated toward rock. From a young age, Steve had an affinity for the great hair bands like KISS. “That’s what I wanted to do when I got older,” Steve said. “So my parents on my 13th birthday wound up buying me my first guitar.” By the time he graduated high school, Steve was teaching lessons to other aspiring musicians, mentoring as many as 100 students a week. He went on to study at Minnesota State University Moorhead and later taught at Red River Valley Academy, Elevate Rock School, and North Dakota State University, all while playing in a number of local and international rock bands. Today, Steve is teaching a much larger audience. As the face of GuitarZoom, an instructional website for

which he leads beginner-level to advanced guitar classes, Stine has amassed what can only be described as a cult following: almost a million subscribers across two YouTube channels. Steve has become one of the world’s most influential online music instructors and a mentor to some of music’s biggest stars, like pop sensation Shawn Mendes. “My videos are getting viewed all over the world, all the time,” Steve said. In 2015, Steve and his family moved 30 miles southwest of Fargo to Kindred, North Dakota. The 700-person town was a perfect fit and a welcome change for the Stines. They could enjoy a larger yard and more space to roam, build closer relationships with their neighbors, and enroll their two children in a smaller school system. There was just one hitch: Steve was already teaching online lessons, and he needed to be able to do so from his new home in rural North Dakota. “I do a lot of live-streaming webinars, guitar lessons, stuff like that, so it’s important that my video and my audio is not glitchy on the other side for whoever’s viewing it,” Steve said. “Having good broadband is absolutely imperative and it was a little bit worrisome for us moving to Kindred, whether or not we would have that capability.”

A Story to Tell Jil Friesz didn’t always have a passion for journalism. She enrolled at the University of Mary in Bismarck intending to pursue a career in public relations; while there, she met a small-town farmer. The two married, and in 1996, moved onto a farm north of New Leipzig, North Dakota. Jill’s employment options were limited. Luckily, her husband’s best friend’s mom just so happened to work as a typesetter for the paper in nearby Elgin. “She quit her job so I could come and work here,” Jill said. “I started working here three or four days after we got married, worked here for eight years with the publishers and when they got ready to retire they said, ‘Do you want to buy the business?’ So that’s how it happened, and I took over the business 15 years ago.” Today, Jill is the owner of GS Publishing, the publishing house that prints and distributes the Grant County News as well as the Carson Press, Adams County Record, and Hettinger County Herald. She’s on a mission to save small-town newspapers from going extinct: in the 15 years since Jill took over the Grant County News, more than one in five papers in the United States has shuttered. “Nobody else in the entire world cares who is the Homecoming CONT. ON NEXT PAGE


We can really do anything that anybody else can do, especially now that we’re connected to the world.

- Jill Friesz



King and Queen. Nobody else cares if your basketball team made it to second place,” Jill said. “There’s a lot of big stories around here. There’s a lot of people who have a story to tell. Nobody else is telling that story. That’s my job to get that out there to the community.”

More Content, Faster When Steve relocated from Fargo to Kindred with his family, he experienced frequent problems with his Internet. Four hours worth of video content would take up to four days to upload. His connection would cut out altogether in the middle of a live stream, leaving hundreds of unsatisfied students behind. Desperate for a solution, Steve contacted his local Internet provider and Broadband Association of North Dakota (BAND) member, MLGC. “They actually put in a new fiber optic line for


me,” Steve said. “They had to crawl up the telephone pole in the middle of winter and put in a new line and run it into our house. And ever since then we’ve had a really great relationship with everybody at MLGC.” The impact was immediate. With his new high-speed Internet connection, Steve has not experienced a single interruption to his live lessons. Large video files that once took days to upload now take mere hours, allowing Steve to produce more content, faster. To Steve, MLGC’s willingness to go above and beyond to meet his connectivity needs—to install a fiber optic line in his yard in the dead of a North Dakota winter—was unheard of. But to President and General Manager Tyler Kilde, it was just one of countless examples of MLGC’s commitment to their customers. “We want to make sure that the rural customers have the same type of access as metropolitan areas such as Minneapolis,” Tyler

said. “This is a world economy, and the ability to have Steve reach tens of millions of people and reside in rural North Dakota, that’s huge.”

News That Matters, When it Matters Over the past 15 years, Jill has witnessed a dramatic shift in the way newspapers operate. When she took over the Grant County News, her staff had to manually print, cut, and paste each individual article onto the makeup sheet—a delicate and time-consuming task. Then Jill would take the makeup sheet, make a negative of it, and drive all of the negatives to the printing plant. Creating a newspaper was a day-long process, not including the actual reporting, writing, and distribution. But now, thanks to high-speed Internet from local BAND member WRT, GS Publishing can create and distribute a paper in a fraction of the time.

“Broadband has completely changed the newspaper industry. I can lay everything out on the computer and all I have to do is click a button and it’s at my printer,” Jill said. “It has saved so much time for me...and it makes so many less mistakes in the newspaper”

I’m able to do what I do and send it out to the world yet maintain this relaxed environment of living in the rural community.”

The Internet could be seen as the largest threat to print journalism, as more and more Americans are turning online for their news. But Jill isn’t running from the Internet—she is using it to her advantage. To ensure that her neighbors have access to accurate reporting on the news that matters to them, Jill has increased GS Publishing’s online presence through social media and an electronic version of their papers.

“The sky’s the limit for us,” Jill said. “We can really do anything that anybody else can do, especially now that we’re connected to the world.”

Jill agrees.

“A couple of years ago, we had a very large equipment dealership fire in town. It happened to be the night of New Year’s Eve,” Jill said. “Through Facebook Live, I was able to get that out to our readers so people could watch that happen. I have used Facebook Live for basketball games, championships, things like that. Right now I’m using it for all of the breaking news that’s happening with the coronavirus. So it really has become essential for me to be able to do more day-to-day reporting than just the weekly reporting.“ In an era when access to timely, accurate news is more important than ever before, Jill is working day and night to keep her community informed. And with broadband from WRT, she is able to reach more readers, faster.

The New Rural The 16 member organizations that form BAND are making it possible for diverse industries, from music to journalism, to thrive in our rural communities. But even as North Dakota’s identity as a state is shifting, our values remain the same. “I’ve lived in a rural community my entire life,” said Troy Schilling, CEO and General Manager of WRT. “People here are friendly. People are trusting in ways, but they’re more than that. They’re helpful to others. We always live by the ‘lend a hand and be a good neighbor’ mentality. North Dakota has always been that way.” Steve and Jill both moved to rural North Dakota from larger cities. Whether they moved for marriage or a better education for their children, it was these values—trust, kindness, and generosity—that made them stay. And with access to high-speed Internet, they do not need to leave the rural communities they’ve grown to love in order to run their businesses. “I’m able to do things that a lot of my friends that live in bigger cities can’t even do. They don’t have those speeds at their homes,” Steve said. “So for me it’s the perfect combination.


KNOW WHAT’S BELOW Whether you call 8-1-1 or go online to, North Dakota One Call makes sure you’re able to navigate the one-call process as easy as possible. Whether you are a professional contractor working on a project, or novice homeowner just installing a fence - Contact 811 EVERY TIME YOU DIG to ensure no underground lines are damaged. It’s Easy and It’s the Law. Dig Safe! Whether you’re building a fence or planting a tree, contact 811 EVERY TIME YOU DIG to ensure no underground lines are damaged. It’s easy and it’s the law. Dig safe!


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CALL 701.344.5000

to learn how to keep your business up & running.


Readi Tech


34th ANNUAL G.O.L.F CLASSIC July 11 & 12, 2020 *subject to change pending pandemic regulations

Sponsored by

NEW DIRECTORY LISTINGS Edgeley 493 Joanne Lux................ 493-2624

Forbes, SD 358 David Melland...(605) 358-8571 Forman 724 Donna Arneson.......... 724-6297 Carrie Williams.......... 724-3835


Fort Ransom 973 Thrill Hills................... 973-4217 LaMoure 883 Brenda Hahn.............. 883-5905

DRN ReadiTech connected over 90 students to Internet within two weeks and had e-learning operating in our territory before the April 1st deadline set by Governor Burgum. Thank you to school administrators, DRN employees and technicians for your work to make this happen.

I just received our monthly phone bill and was brought to tears as I read your note included in your bill. Your generosity during this difficult time is so appreciated. Thank you so much!

Lisbon 683 Kara Anderson........... 683-4081 Oakes 742 Jen Cuhel................... 742-3564 Loretta Enderson....... 742-7408 THANK YOU for the statement credit for the month of April! I truly appreciate your consideration and thoughtfulness for your customers. I’ve been nothing but impressed by your company and employees since I moved back the service area a few years ago. I hope your staff stay safe and healthy during this historic time.


Your words of thanks keep us going during these tough times.

Want to thank you for the credit on our phone bill this month. As a small church, when our community is struggling it affects all of us. Now with the COVID19 situation, it makes it even harder for the small churches in our community with no services and reduced contributions. It’s the little things that help us all through and we appreciate your move to give the DRN customers a credit to their monthly bills.


Social Distancing? You’re Not Alone Schools across the country are holding online instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Restaurants and shops have closed their doors. Some states, including California, have implemented mandatory shelter-in-place regulations. Social distancing is one of the most effective things we can all do to slow the spread of COVID-19, but keeping a safe distance from friends and family during this time can feel isolating and downright lonely. Fortunately, the Internet offers several ways to stay engaged, entertained, and educated during these long days of isolation!

Here are just a few simple ways to stay connected (while apart)



Learn a lauguage. Download Duolingo or a similar app to teach yourself a foreign language, from Spanish to Swedish!


Video conferencing services like Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Zoom make it easy to have coffee dates or happy hours with friends and family, even when you can’t meet in-person.

Get a Workout in.

Your gym may be closed, but you don’t need to give up your fitness routine. There are hundreds of aerobics and yoga videos available online, many of them (like Bodyweight Warrior, POPSUGAR Fitness, and Yoga with Adriene) for no cost!


Grab some Coffee!


host a movie night.


Good news: you don’t need to stream alone. The Netflix Party extension on Google Chrome allows you to watch Netflix remotely with long-distance friends! It synchronizes video playback and adds a group chat feature. Heads up, you must be using the Google Chrome web browser—sorry Firefox and Safari fans.


Pick up a new instrument.

Is there a guitar collecting dust somewhere in your basement from that one time you thought you’d learn to play? Well, there’s never been a better time to learn! With broadband, you have access to hundreds of online tutorials. We recommend Steve Stine Guitar!

Travel the world. Many of us have had to cancel family trips due to the coronavirus pandemic, but thanks to the Internet, we can still get some sight-seeing in! Museums, national parks, and zoos are all offering virtual tours. And if those options aren’t exotic enough, you can explore the surface of Mars on NASA’s Curiosity Rover!


Support local Business.

Small business owners and employees are some of the hardest hit by coronavirus. While you may not be able to shop in-store for a few weeks, see if you can buy a gift card online—your purchase will help the business now, and you will get to treat yourself later on.


Get a new Book!

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card! Libby is a free app that allows you to borrow ebooks and digital audiobooks from your local public library. You can stream books with Wi-Fi or mobile data, or download them for offline use and read anytime, anywhere. And if you have a young reader going stir-crazy at home, Audible is currently offering free streams on a select number of children's stories across six languages.


Read your local paper.

These days, we are all being bombarded with news from around the world. Make sure you have access to the stories that matter most to you; thanks to broadband, many small-town newspapers are available online!


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

This institution is an equal-opportunity provider and employer.


Headquarters 9628 Hwy 281 | PO Box 69 Ellendale, ND 58436

Lisbon Office 16 4th Ave W Lisbon, ND 58054

Oakes Office 103 6th St S Oakes, ND 58474

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