Red River Communications - Summer 2019 Newsletter

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Your FiberFASTTM Internet Cooperative


Robocalls: What You Can Do


The Speed You Need to Get Things Done


Our Communities: Fairmount, ND


SPECIAL FEATURE: Baseball and Broadband



Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

Summer 2019 Edition Volume 4, Issue 2 The Red River Communications newsletter is published quarterly for our customers. It is distributed free-of-charge to our customers in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS Dave Gauslow President District 1 - Abercrombie

From the General Manager “Stay on the line to hear about a special offer!” We’ve all received calls like that from an unfamiliar number. If anything, it seems as if these calls are becoming more common place.

Ronald German Vice-President District 8 - Fairmount/Hankinson

These are collectively known as robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it’s a robocall.

Gary Boutiette Secretary/Treasurer District 5 - Kent

If you’re getting a lot of robocalls trying to sell you something, odds are the calls are illegal. Many are also scams trying to gain access to personal information or your financial accounts.

Wayne Schindler District 2 - Barnesville


Rhonda Erbes District 3 - Colfax Harlan Deike District 4 - Great Bend

General Manager/CEO Jeff Olson

It can seem like a never-ending battle to stay ahead of these scammers. First, we recommend adding your phone number (landline and cell phone) to the national Do Not Call Registry. See the back of this newsletter for more information on the registry.

Neil Klosterman District 6 - Mooreton

The registry gives you the choice whether or not you wish to receive unsolicited telemarketing calls. It does not prevent businesses that you do business with from contacting you.

Thomas Bjorndahl District 7 - Rollag


Ione Eckre District 9 - Lidgerwood/Wyndmere

Unfortunately many robocalls originate from outside of the United States and are placed by entities or individuals who don’t necessarily follow the law. We do offer a calling feature known as Call Screening. With this service you can use it to screen out telemarketers, polling services, robocallers, and other nuisance calls. Contact our office for more information on if this service would be a good fit for you.

Red River Rural Telephone Assoc. 510 Broadway, PO Box 136 Abercrombie, ND 58001 REDRIVERCOMM.COM Produced by the staff of Red River Communications Cover Photo: Fairmount, ND under summer sunshine on a June 2019 afternoon.

WHAT’S NEXT As of June 2019, the FCC is developing an aggressive plan to combat robocallers. There are rules in the works that would allow phone companies to begin blocking more of these types of calls. More specifically, it means that these types of calls would be blocked by default without needing explicit permission from our members. For many people it would mean a large reduction in the number of robocalls they receive without having to subscribe to another calling feature or service.


Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

Common Cents For the Common Good

The Common Cents Board met in June and made donations to the following organizations: WILKIN COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY $1,000 for country school house floor renovation

Applications Due


MOORETON PARK BOARD $1,500 for hockey/skating rink


VALLEY LAKE BOYS HOME $1,000 for rototiller, lawn mowers and work boots THREE INDIVIDUALS $500 each for medical expenses

$169,446.50 Donated since 2008

For more info, visit

ARE YOU PLANNING A DIY PROJECT? Planting a tree or putting up a fence? Remember to contact North Dakota One Call or Gopher State One Call! There are several utility lines buried such as fiber optic, electric, gas or water... The first step to any project is safety! Damaging an underground facility can be costly and can cause injury or even death. Dial 811 to contact North Dakota One Call or Gopher State One Call and the utility line owners will be notified to locate their lines.

Visit for more information

It’s free, it’s simple, and it’s the law.

Mark your proposed construction area with white flags or paint. Locates are valid for 14 days in Minnesota and 21 days in North Dakota.


Construction Tip


Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

BITS AND BYTES THE SPEED YOU NEED TO GET THINGS DONE One of the top questions we get asked is “what speed internet do I need?” The answer depends on how many people in your household are using the internet and what they are doing on the internet. Everything you do on the internet takes bandwidth. Bandwidth is a measure of how much data is being transferred over the internet to you. Certain activities take a lot of bandwidth (like watching a movie) and some activities don’t take much at all (like checking your email). You might wonder why you need faster than a 25Mbps connection if Netflix uses 25Mbps to stream a 4k movie. It’s a valid question with two answers. BITS AND BYTES First - we should clarify what Mbps actually means. It stands for megabits per second. It’s a measure of how much data is being transferred at a specific point in time. A bit is a single 0 or 1 that computers decode into something you see on the your screen - like a video or email. A megabit is a million bits or a million 1s and 0s, each telling your phone or computer to do something. For example, the average photo taken by an iPhone is about 50 megabits or about 6.25 megabytes. 8 bits make up a single byte of data. We won’t get into the technical reasons behind that, but just remember that a megabit is 1/8 of a megabyte. DATA PIPE


Bandwidth is like the water pipe coming into your home. The bigger the pipe, the more water that can come in at once. Let’s say you had a 25Mbps connection and were watching Netflix. Netflix alone would use the entire 25Mbps connection. That means there

wouldn’t be enough bandwidth “leftover” for any other tasks. Your connection is effectively “maxed out.” So, what would happen if you tried to do something else at the same time? Odds are you would see your Netflix movie buffer (temporarily pause to load more data) and go to a lower level of quality. In other words, the picture would get blurry and pixelated. NEED FOR SPEED The other part is speed. Speed is similar to water pressure. It’s a measure of how fast data is moving through your internet connection. Because bandwidth is a measure of how much data is being transferred, the more bandwidth you have the FASTER your connection could go. Why does that matter? It allows certain activities like updating your smart phone or downloading large files to complete faster than it would on a lower bandwidth (i.e. SLOWER) connection. If we go back to our photo example, a 50 megabit photo would take about a second to download on a 50Mbps connection. It would finish downloading in about 1/20th of a second on a 1000Mbps (gigabit) connection. The difference between 1 second and 1/20th of a second probably doesn’t seem like much. Now imagine you are downloading 1000 photos. It would take 1000 seconds on the 50Mbps connection and only 50 seconds on the 1000Mbps connection. That’s why having a fast connection makes sense. PUTTING IT TOGETHER Both bandwidth and speed are important. Too little bandwidth and it means that you can’t stream a movie and check your email at the same time. Too little speed and your connection is too slow to do anything in a timely manner.



If you add up all of the activities above, you get 50-55Mbps. That means an entire FiberFASTTM 50Mbps connection would be full. If this looks like your family, it might be time to upgrade your FiberFAST internet speed!

Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

The illustration below shows how much bandwidth is used by common internet activites.


Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

EASY GRILLED BARBECUE CHICKEN Grilled chicken is a surprisingly simple dish to make, plus it offers a lot of flavor.

INGREDIENTS 1 cup barbecue sauce

Patience and attention is the key to making your barbecue chicken mouth-watering. You’ll want to keep a close eye on the chicken to ensure that no piece gets burnt.

4 TBSP olive oil

This recipe is awesome fresh off the grill or cold later. It’s great the next day, especially out at the lake.

Sea salt (to taste)

Prep Time 10 minutes

6-8 chicken legs (bone-in, skin-on, thawed)

Black pepper (to taste)

Cook Time 35-40 minutes

Serves 4-6

STEP 1 Mix together 1 cup of barbecue sauce, 2 tbsp of olive oil, and 1/4 cup of water. Set aside half of this mixture. Use the remaining half to marinate the chicken for at least an hour before continuing. Place chicken and marinade in a sealed bowl or ziploc bag in fridge while marinating. STEP 2 Preheat your grill to medium heat. Coat the top of the grill grates with olive oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. STEP 3 Remove chicken from marinade and discard this portion of the marinade. Sprinkle each chicken leg with salt and pepper to taste.


STEP 4 Place chicken on grill over indirect medium heat for 20 minutes, basting with the set aside marinade mixture every 10 minutes. Turn and grill for another 15-20 minutes or until temperature reaches 165F.

Did you make this recipe? Send us your photos. We’d also love your favorite BBQ recipes - send them to


Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

FAIRMOUNT In 2019, we’ll highlight one of the communities we serve in each issue of our newsletter. We continue our series with Fairmount.

QUICK FACTS Founded: 1884 or 1887 Population: 353 Elevation: 981 feet Named after a park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania It was in the spring of 1878 that farmers from Michigan sought out access to less expensive farm land. They had heard stories of a fertile area known as the Red River Valley of Dakota Territory. It wasn’t until 1879 that the first settlers to the area now known as Fairmount arrived. One of the first to arrive, E. K. Crafts, described it as a “long, broad, level prairie, as nice as many ever saw, and extending hundreds of miles...”

town didn’t officially vote on incorporation until May 1887. Regardless of the exact date, the origins of the town’s name is a bit more clear. One of the town’s founders, J.C. Henvis, proposed to name it after a park he visited in Philadelphia known as Fairmount Park.

Tigers, is formed by the Rosholt, SD, Campbell-Tintah, MN, and Fairmount, ND school districts. Here’s a trivia tidbit: Fairmount is perhaps the farthest east city in North Dakota. This is owed to that fact that ND has a slight eastward outcropping near the South Dakota border.

Like many railroad towns, Fairmount has seen its share of ups and downs. Today, the community boasts over 350 residents who call it home.

The town plays up this fact on their colorful welcome sign by proclaiming it to be “Where the Sun Shines First in North Dakota.”

The first purpose-built school was opened in the winter of 1883-1884. Prior to that, a small makeshift building served as a school to educate the young people of the area.

It’s close proximity to Wahpeton make it a natural fit for those who want to live in a small community but still have access to the amenities of a larger town.

Fairmount became 100% fiberto-the-home in 2016.

Fairmount’s exact date of founding is the subject of some debate. The Milwaukee Railway arrived in 1884 and began referring to the town as Fairmount instead of its original name, Sewall. However, the

Fairmount Public School, a K-12 school, is based in the city. Fairmount is unique in that it co-ops with schools in two other states (SD and MN) to field teams for some sports.






The co-op, named the Tri-State



Red River River Communications Communications SUMMER SUMMER 2019 2019 Red

Baseball and Broadband How Giants Snacks became the snack of choice for every American baseball league

A few years ago, it was an otherwise ordinary afternoon at Giants Snacks in Wahpeton, ND, when the phone rang with an unknown number. Jason Schuler, a sales manager at the time, answered. “Hello?” “Hello, I’m a manager for the New York Yankees. We’d like to get some of your sunflower seeds for our dugout.” Jason smirked and hung up. He knew it had to be some of his buddies pulling a prank. The number called again. “Look —” Jason began. “Sir, this really is the New York Yankees,” the manager said. Jason froze. Then he laughed and apologized. A few weeks later, New York Yankees like A-Rod, Derek Jeter, and Kevin Brown were chewing Giants original sunflower seeds on the field. And they weren’t the only ones.

FCC Commissioner Brenden Carr and Red River Communications CEO Jeff Olson Toured Giants Snacks last fall.

at Giants. “Today, we’re at the dugout of every league in the country. And that’s all through the player’s choice.” Giants remains the official seed of the Minnesota Twins to this day, as well as the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants. Over the years, they’ve also been the official seed of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Colorado Rockies. Regardless of whether they’re the official seed or not, Giants Snacks sunflower seeds can be found in every Major League Baseball dugout in America. Every year, the company ships out 2-3 pallets, or around 6,732 bags of sunflower seeds, to every home stadium across the country. “So if you’re watching baseball and see the players chewing seeds — that’s Giants Snacks!” Tom said. SUNFLOWER SOCKS



That was in 2004, and marked a time of exponential growth for Giants Snacks. They had recently been declared the official seed of the Minnesota Twins, thanks to a concerted effort from Jason, now Vice President of Sales. From there, they quickly gained a reputation as the best sunflower seeds around — in large part (no pun intended) due to their bigger-thanaverage variety of sunflower seeds (hence the name “Giants”). “Other teams would come to the Twins’ stadium, try the Giants seeds, and then request them for their own dugout,” said Tom Spiekermeier, Operations Manager

The origin of Giants Snacks is far more humble. The Schuler family traces it to generations ago, when a young man who was leaving Russia for America smuggled sunflower seeds in his socks — all the way to the Red River Valley. That man would eventually have a grandson named Jay Schuler, who sold sunflower seeds to snacking companies across the U.S. Meanwhile, fields of yellow sunflowers continued to grow and bloom across North Dakota. During Jay’s time working for the snack company, he found some of the sunflower seeds were larger and plumper than the others. These he was instructed to ship overseas. Jay had a vision that these larger seeds could be popular in America — but none of the companies wanted to jump on board.

Red River Communications is a proud member of BAND - The Broadband Association of North Dakota


better product and run a better business.”

Finally, in 1995, Jay put a few of these large seeds in a bag and began selling them himself, calling them “Giants.” Over the years, these “Giants” continued to rise in popularity. Jay’s sons Jason and Robert joined the team in 1997 and 2002 respectively, and brought a renewed focus to the marketing efforts. When the Twins declared Giants their official seed in 2004, Giants seeds became a sought after snack.

Giants Snacks also uses their internet to connect with consumers. With the rise of e-commerce, they’ve launched a brand new website, which has increased their online sales. They also interact with their groups of taste-testers via online groups, where they can fill out online surveys and provide market research on new products. Once new products are released, Tom and the Giants Snacks team are able to track feedback through customer reviews on the website,

Today, Giants Snacks continues to grow from their home based in Wahpeton, ND. There, they can remain in close proximity to the farmers producing the seeds and maintain quality control over their products. And, Tom adds, there are just good people out there. “There’s a small-town mentality that people have,” he said. “That’s what I really appreciate about this area.” BASEBALL & THE BROADBAND ASSOCIATION OF NORTH DAKOTA


Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

“We were concerned about the consumer. They were concerned about their bottom line,” Jay Schuler said, in a Grand Forks Herald article about their story.

“Sometimes we have to nix a flavor and years later people are still asking for it,” Tom said, mentioning their top request right now is spicy garlic. “Sometimes they don’t get enough traction, and you have to know when to bite the bullet and move on to the next thing. Our online surveys and feedback help us know when to do that.”

Of course, owning and operating a business that caters to customers across the country — and even a few around the world — demands certain resources in order to be successful. One of the most important pieces, Tom said, is having reliable internet. Thanks to their local broadband provider, Red River Communications, part of the Broadband Association of North Dakota (BAND), Giants doesn’t have to worry about their rural location affecting their internet connection. BAND’s initiative, from the beginning, has focused on providing North Dakotans with quality broadband no matter where they are located, urban or rural. Through decades of concerted effort laying fiber and fighting for the right legislation, North Dakota is now one of the most connected states in the nation. In fact, many rural areas often have higher internet speeds than in major cities. “Having quality broadband makes my job so much easier — it makes all of our jobs so much easier,” Tom said. “I don’t know how I would get by without it.”

“We always try to ask ourselves, what can we do to be better? What can we do to be more efficient?” Tom said. “With these tools and data, I’m able to see which problems to focus on. It truly does help us to make a

“My personal favorite is bacon ranch sunflower seeds,” Tom shared. “We also just released a sour cream and onion pistachio, and they’re so good.” With flavors, packaging, technology and every other aspect of their business, Giants Snacks is committed to staying innovative. Giants Snacks founder Jay Schuler often quotes a famed line from Gary Vaynerchuk: “If you don’t innovate, you die.” From the very early days of pitching larger sunflower seeds to consumers (and even further back, one might argue, to the innovative method of using a sock to transport seeds crosscountry) — innovation runs in Giants Snacks roots. Equipped with quality broadband and technology, a quality home base in North Dakota, and a quality team of folks who understand agriculture and the beauty of a tasty sunflower seed, Giants Snacks is looking forward to continued success.


Quality broadband allows Tom to use a technology platform that tracks every productivity line, runs quality checks, and gathers data, all on his iPad. They also use a security service that allows them to remotely monitor and control their entrances. More recently, Giants is also beginning to utilize automated machines to optimize their productivity. None of these tools would be possible without a reliable broadband connection, Tom said.

Recently, the “next thing” for Giants was the release of two completely new product lines: pistachios and cashews. Both products are quickly gaining success, Tom said — although their most famous continues to be their famous Giants Original Flavor Sunflower Seeds.



Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Did you know that Red River Communications offers up to an 11% discount on your monthly cellular plan price? Plus, our plans start at only $15 month with nationwide coverage! Switching to Red River Cellular is easy even if you already have service through another provider.

CAN I KEEP MY NUMBER? Yes - you can bring your number (or port) to Red River Cellular in most cases. The latest copy of your current cellular bill and any associated password or PIN is needed.

IS YOUR COVERAGE LIMITED TO OUR LOCAL AREA? No - our coverage is nationwide. We operate on the nation’s largest 4G LTE network. That means you’ll have great coverage whether you are in Abercrombie or Ann Arbor, Michigan.

HOW DOES BILLING WORK? Your cellular plan gets added to your existing Red River Communications bill. Having everything on one bill makes it that much easier, plus it makes you eligible to receive up to 11% off your monthly bill. Contact us for details about our Customer Loyalty Program!

CAN I STILL GET A FLIP PHONE? Believe it or not - flip phones are still very popular! We have several models to choose from (pictured below) with prices starting at only $100 before promotions or offers.

INDIVIDUAL 4G LTE HD PLANS Our individual plans offer something for everyone at a price that is often lower than prepaid phones or other cellular providers. BASIC 250


per month

250 minutes 0 texts 0 MB data




per month

500 minutes 500 texts 500 MB data


per month

Unlimited minutes Unlimited texts Unlimited data


Prices do not include applicable monthly taxes. An activation fee of $15 per line may apply for new customers. No contract is necessary if bringing own device or buying device outright. The cost of the device is separate.

Kyocera DuraXV

Kyocera Cadence LG Exalt


Red River Communications SUMMER 2019

summer Fun in our communities

Families gathered at the park in Wyndmere last summer for an outdoor movie and free concessions.





Free hot dogs and brats while they last followed by an outdoor showing of the movie Ralph Breaks the Internet. Grilling starts at 6pm with the movie starting at dusk - Park Pavilion





Free showing of Sherlock Gnomes. Refreshments will be served. Bring a blanket or chair and enjoy!




Free showing of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. Refreshments will be served. Bring a blanket or chair and enjoy!

Movie starting approximately at dusk - Ball Diamond

Movie starting approximately at dusk - Wyndmere City Park

Keep an eye on our Facebook page and your mailbox for updates on everything happening at Red River Communications.


Our events are ALWAYS FREE to attend!

PO Box 136 510 Broadway Abercrombie, ND 58001




The National Do Not Call Registry gives you a choice about whether to receive telemarketing calls. The Registry accepts registrations from both cell phones and land lines. It is a free service provided by the Federal Trade Commission. To enroll, visit or call 888-382-1222






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Your FiberFASTTM Internet Cooperative