Red River Communications CONNECT- Spring 2022 Newsletter

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RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS

CONNECT

FEATURED STORY: Red River Communications

70th Annual Meeting RECAP

2022 Scholarship winners

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Twin Towns construction

PAGE 9

Summer Events

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RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS - VOLUME 7 - ISSUE 2 - SPRING 2022

BACK PAGE


70 YEARS

CONTENTS / NEWS

W W W.REDRIVERCOMM.COM

COMPANY NEWS

SCHOLARSHIPS

AWARDED

RECAP

UPDATES

GRANTS

COMMON CENTS/

SUMMER EVENTS

What’s happening at Red River Communications

12 college scholarship award winners announced

70th Annual Meeting reports and highlights

Wahpeton / Breckenridge 2022 project updates

Learn how to apply for project grant dollars

Join us for fun summer events hosted by RRC!

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PAGES 4 - 8

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CONSTRUCTION

ANNUAL MEETING

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UPSTREAM @ RED RIVER

COMPANY NEWS WELCOME NEW BOARD MEMBERS

SERVICE AWARDS

Sherri Bernard 10 years

David Rystad

Tim Viland and Joe Pikarski were elected to serve on the Red River Communications Board of Directors during the Cooperative’s 70th annual meeting. Viland was appointed to complete the remainder of Dave Gauslow’s term representing the Abercrombie Exchange. Pikarski replaces Neil Klosterman representing the Mooreton Exchange, serving a three-year term.

Three employees and two directors have reached milestone years of service at Red River Communications. We thank them for their loyal and dedicated service to the Cooperative and its members, plus expansion area customers.

Welcome to the Red River family, Tim and Joe!

Congratulations on your achievements!

5 years

Mardee Leinen 5 years

Wayne Schindler

Rhonda Erbes

10 years

5 years

DIRECTORS 2

Tim Viland

Joe Pikarski

District 1 - Abercrombie Exchange

District 6 - Mooreton Exchange


RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS | SPRING 2022

Red River Communications is proud to announce the recipients of the 2022 Scholarship Program. The scholarship selection committee awarded 12 college scholarships this year, totaling $12,000 in funds. Congratulations, seniors!

70 YEARS

2022 RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS

Scholarship

AWARD WINNERS

SAVANNAH FALK

MEGAN ROOB

Hankinson High School

Richland 44 High School

General Membership Scholarship $1,000 Major | Pharmacy Technician

General Membership Scholarship $1,000 Major | Physical & Health Education

GRACE FLEMING

MARY RUPP

Hawley High School

Campbell-Tintah High School

General Membership Scholarship $1,000 Major | Pre-Optometry

General Scholarship $1,000 Major | Psychology & Criminal Justice

EMMA HEYEN

SOPHIA VIGER

Richland 44 High School

Campbell-Tintah High School

General Membership Scholarship $1,000 Major | Elementary Education

General Scholarship $1,000 Major | Biomedical Engineering

KYA MAUCH

EMMA KRATCHA

Hankinson High School

Hankinson High School

General Membership Scholarship $1,000 Major | Dental Hygiene

Agricultural Scholarship $1,000 Major | Environmental Studies/Biology

COLTEN MICKELSON

JACE STEFFENS

Richland 44 High School

Hankinson High School

General Membership Scholarship $1,000 Major | Agronomy

Technical Scholarship $1,000 Major | Electrical Tech

KEAGAN NEPPL

KADEN ZENZEN

Richland 44 High School

Barnesville High School

General Membership Scholarship $1,000 Major | Business Management

Vocational Scholarship $1,000 Major | Construction Management

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70 YEARS

W W W.REDRIVERCOMM.COM

ANNUAL MEETING RECAP

Red River Communications

70 ANNUAL MEETING TH

FROM THE CEO: Annual Meeting Report Thank you to all of our Cooperative members, retired employees and special guests that attended our 70th Annual Meeting on March 17, 2022. 2021 YEAR IN REVIEW TOM STEINOLFSON

CEO/ GENERAL MANAGER

“It is the decisions this Cooperative has made over the last 70 years that make rural communities extremely attractive to young families, telecommuters, and small businesses.”

FCC Waiver: One of our main objectives in 2021 was getting the FCC to recognize that Red River was not receiving the correct amount of funding for the rural Barnesville and Rollag exchanges. The FCC did recognize that Red River needed the universal service funding that we were entitled and issued a corrected funding plan. Thank you to all of you who signed letters of support. It was this grass roots effort that got the attention of our Senators, who ultimately pushed the FCC to make the necessary changes. Pandemic: In 2021 Red River was no stranger to the ongoing challenges with the pandemic. I want to thank the employees for all their great work and dedication over the past challenging two years. 2021 Construction Update - Expansion Areas: The Wahpeton and Breckenridge project consumed a major part of our investment efforts. Although we experienced material shortages and construction delays, I am happy to report all the construction forecasted

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for Wahpeton and Breckenridge was completed. In November 2021, we started installing services using our network. We also wrapped up the 2020 projects in the Hawley area by connecting Winnipeg Junction and the Boutin Addition. Major Network Upgrades: In the second quarter of 2021, we completed a major network upgrade which provides expanded bandwidth throughout our Cooperative areas. Television System: Red River completed transferring customers over to our new TV system. We had some growing pains, but we’re proud of our service and the expanded options now available to our customers. Also, we are delighted to bring exclusive TV content such as 3 Borders Sports Network and other locally broadcasted community events. Growth: In 2021, we saw healthy growth of our membership body and communities as a whole. It is the decisions this Cooperative has made over the past 70 years that make rural communities extremely attractive to young families, telecommuters, and small businesses. Supply Chain: Another area of note is the continued monitoring of the supply chain


RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS | SPRING 2022

70 YEARS

delays we face with our construction projects. Your Cooperative continues to fight that as do many within various industries. SNEAK PEEK AT 2022 2022 Wahpeton - Breckenridge Project: Our sales team is actively working to pre-sell fiber broadband services to customers and businesses. Our 2022 build area includes Dakota & Minnesota Avenues, plus select residential areas in both Wahpeton and Breckenridge.

CELEBRATING 70 YEARS OF PROGRESS

Grant Applications: We have been busy over the last few months applying for grant funding to help offset the cost of bringing fiber-to-the-home service to rural Wahpeton, rural Hawley, and rural SE Moorhead. The Board and management staff believe this growth opportunity is important to the continued health of the Cooperative. That said, we stay committed to maintaining the same level of exceptional service for our members. Hiring: As we grow, we are also expanding our employee base and will continue to do so over the next few years as we acquire additional customers. Future-Proof Network: Our team is preparing for more expansion and ensuring our network is overly capable of handling the increased subscribers. Again, I want to thank you for allowing me to lead your Cooperative. Happy 70th birthday to Red River Communications - here’s to 70 more!

- Tom Steinolfson CEO, Red River Communications

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70 YEARS

W W W.REDRIVERCOMM.COM

ANNUAL MEETING RECAP

Annual Meeting: President’s Report On March 17, 2022, our membership gathered for the 70th Annual Meeting of Red River Communications. Our last in-person annual meeting was held in March of 2019, three years ago. It was wonderful to see everyone together again. PATRONAGE Red River had another financially successful year. For eight consecutive years, the Board has approved a general patronage retirement. In its simplest terms, patronage is the net margins earned by the company. Because Red River is a Cooperative, that patronage is allocated to its members. Most of that patronage is retained by Red River to operate the

DAVE GAUSLOW

PRESIDENT BOARD OF DIRECTORS

company and maintain quality service. But when financial conditions allow, we can return some of that patronage to the members. This year we sent out over $634,000 in checks to our members. Congratulations to the management and staff for another successful year.

commercial companies like Northwestern Bell. Before the 1950s, many people in rural areas did not have access to reliable telephone services. Small farmer mutual systems dotted the countryside. Yet most lacked the funds to maintain or upgrade systems.

HISTORY OF RED RIVER This year marks the 70th year since the Cooperative was established. So much has changed since then, and I thought it might be fun to look back on how it began.

A few of these farmer systems later become part of our Cooperative, Abercrombie Tel. Co., Akron line, Atherton (Malinger line), Alliance line (Ernst), Baker line, Mooreton Tel. Co., Prairie View, Oscar, and the Rothsay Tel. Co.

Telephone service had been available in large communities throughout the early 1900s, served mostly by large

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One of these systems, the Abercrombie Telephone Co., was established in 1910 by local


RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS | SPRING 2022

mortician M.M. Borman. He negotiated with local farmers to operate and maintain the farmer lines for a modest fee. The Sorum Family bought the Aber Telephone Co. in 1938 and they operated it until joining the Cooperative in 1954.

70 YEARS

internet in 1994, changing the Cooperative forever. Initially providing internet connection over copper phone lines, the decision was made in 2004 to start replacing the copper plant with fiber-optic cable. Since then, Red River has continued to grow. We built a new business office and added wireless internet, digital TV & gig internet. Also, we have added customers outside of our Cooperative area.

In 1951, area residents from rural Barnesville, Rothsay, and Kent banded together and organized as Barnesville Rural Telephone Association. Fifty-one members attended the first annual meeting in 1952. They elected six directors to represent their interests. Since that first meeting, 40 Cooperative members have served as directors.

But with all these changes, the Cooperatives founding principles remain the same, providing the best possible service at the lowest cost. REMEMBERING IONE ECKRE: I want to say a few words about the passing of long-time director Ione Eckre. Ione passed away on May 24, 2021. She served as the director from the Wyndmere/Lidgerwood exchanges since they became part of the Cooperative in 2005 until her retirement in 2020. Ione was a leader, an advocate and a pioneer during her time at Red River. She was always on a quest to learn more about the telecom industry, attending every industry event she could. Ione never shied away from sharing her opinions. Her wit and sense of humor will forever be missed.

After briefly moving its headquarters to Rothsay, MN, in 1954, the Cooperative purchased the Abercrombie Telephone Co. In 1956 the headquarters moved to Abercrombie, where it has remained. With subscribers now in both MN & ND, the Cooperative changed its name to Red River Rural Telephone Association in 1957. Over the years additional exchanges joined the Cooperative. The Great Bend Exchange, purchased in 1965, was converted from overhead lines to buried cable. Hankinson & Lidgerwood was purchased in 1996, and Fairmount & Wyndmere in 2002.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE After 16 years of serving on the Red River Board of Directors, I am retiring. When I started on the Board years ago, my brother-in-law and long-time former director David Hendrickson told me that the job’s best part would be the people I would meet and the friends I would make. He couldn’t have been more right.

Red River began connecting members to the

I want to thank my fellow directors, both past and present, and the two CEOs I have had the privilege to work with, Jeff Olson and Tom Steinolfson. I consider all of you my friends. And finally, thank you to the Cooperative members for continuing to support Red River Communications.

- Dave Gauslow

Red River Communications Board of Directors President

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70 YEARS

ANNUAL MEETING RECAP

W W W.REDRIVERCOMM.COM

2021 Financial Report BALANCE SHEET - ASSETS*

Total Current Assets- $7.0M • Cash - $3.8M • Materials & Supplies - $1.2M • Accounts Receivable - $524K Other Assets & Investments - $16.3M Telecommunications Plant - $21.4M TOTAL ASSETS - $45.2M

Balance Sheet - Liabilities & MEMBERS’ EQUITY*

Current Liabilities- $2.4M • Current Debt - $1.4M • Accounts Payable - $603K Long-Term Debt- $6.1M Total Members’ Equity - $35.5M TOTAL LIABILITIES AND MEMBERS’ EQUITY - $45.2M

Red River Communications Employees at Annual Meeting

STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS*

Operating Revenue - $12.4M Operating Expenses - $10.2M Margins from Operations - $2.2M Non-Operating Margins - $2.4M Income Taxes - $563K NET MARGINS- $4.1M

GENERAL INFORMATION:*

Total Co-op Phone Lines: 3,424 Total Internet Customers: 4,532 Total Video Subscribers: 855

* Absent: Ron German

Red River Communications 2021 - Board of Directors

Historical Net Margins

$5M $4M $3M $2M $1M

$3.7M $1.4M

$3.9M

$4.1M*

$1.7M

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

*All financial numbers are drafts until final audit is complete. 8


CONSTRUCTION UPDATE 2022 BUILD AREAS When will Red River Communications be in my area?

RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS | SPRING 2022

Fiber in the Twin Towns: 2022 Project Update

Go to redrivercomm. com/wahpbreck or scan the QR code below to check out maps of our 2021, 2022, and 2023 build areas. You can also give us a call. We are happy to look up your address for you!

Scan with camera

70 YEARS

Dakota Avenue wahpeton, ND

Work continues in Wahpeton & Breckenridge!

businesses within the 2022 build areas can pre-register for service today.

Soon you will see construction crews installing fiber internet down Dakota Ave., Minnesota Ave., and select residential neighborhoods.

Sign up at our Wahpeton Office located at 522 Dakota Ave. by April 30th and register to win a YEAR of FREE gig internet, premier TV, and local phone service.

Eligible residents and

Also, take advantage of our early sign-up specials: •

FREE installation

One month of FREE FiberFASTTM internet

Six months of FREE DVR service with a Digital TV subscription

THINK OUTSIDE Streaming THE

Think outside the (set-top) box with Red River Digital TV now available as streaming!

Red River Digital TV

BOX

Enjoy the same HDTV experience you know and love, without the expense of a set-top box rental. It's simple, hassle-free, and great for the entire family!

Call 701-553-8309 or visit one of our offices to get started. learn more at redrivercomm.com/digital-tv 9


70 YEARS

W W W.REDRIVERCOMM.COM

COMMON CENTS / GRANTS

Common Cents

Common cents board member Andrea Haugen presents the Lidgerwood Fire Dept. $2,000

Red River’s Common Cents, the Cooperative’s non-profit entity, awarded $2,500 to three organizations in March. BIO Girls (Wahpeton): $1,000 for program materials Lakes & Prairies Community Action Partnership: $1,000 home repair project Individual: $500 for emergency needs Common Cents is funded by our customers when they choose to round up their bills to the next dollar. If you wish to contribute to Common Cents, call 701-553-8309 or email support@redrivercomm.com.

Hankinson Sons of the Legion $2,000 Common Cents Grant

Do you know of an organization that is interesting in applying for a Common Cents grant? Download an application form at redrivercomm.com/about/common-cents

Commitment to Community

RDFC Grants are available to area organizations As a Rural Development Finance Corporation (RDFC) member, Red River Communications can award a total of $2,000 in grants to organizations within our North Dakota service territory. Eligible Projects: Community-owned businesses, community facilities, or community-based projects that will benefit the rural areas; ambulance services, fire departments, community/recreation centers, or community-based projects through service clubs and youth/school programs. Matching funds are required. Mail or deliver application to Red River Communications by June 1, 2022. Download form at redrivercomm.com/community

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RED RIVER COMMUNICATIONS | SPRING 2022

70 YEARS

Spring 2022 Volume 7, Issue 2

New listings - Cooperative Area

The Red River Communications CONNECT newsletter is published quarterly for our members. It is distributed freeof-charge to our members in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

NAME PHONE NUMBER EXCHANGE

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Melissa Sundstrom (701) 553-8564 Abercrombie Haugrud Farms (218) 493-4275 Barnesville Thompson Greenery (Business) (218) 493-4535 Barnesville Rocky Kath (701) 242-7831 Hankinson Jean Gast (218) 557-8395 Kent Evan Bjerke (218) 557-8853 Kent Dakota Micro Inc. (701) 538-4190 Lidgerwood Curtis Ohm (701) 538-4425 Lidgerwood Hannelore Tesch (701) 538-4422 Lidgerwood Kimberly Thompson (701) 439-2619 Wyndmere Bonnie Lesner (701) 439-2257 Wyndmere

New listings - Expansion Area NAME PHONE NUMBER CITY

Alan Comeau (218) 643-8374 Breckenridge Wilkin Drink & Eatery (218) 643-3862 Breckenridge Mary Schradick (701) 642-3691 Wahpeton Faith Church (701) 642- 8416 Wahpeton NAPA Auto Parts (701) 642-2962 Wahpeton Phil’s Tarp Repair (701) 642-9419 Wahpeton

Harlan Deike President District 4 - Great Bend Rhonda Erbes Vice-President District 3 - Colfax Gary Boutiette Secretary/Treasurer District 5 - Kent Tim Viland District 1 - Abercrombie Wayne Schindler District 2 - Barnesville Joe Pikarski District 6 - Mooreton Jerry Janssen District 7 - Rollag Ron German District 8 - Fairmount/Hankinson Jan Schmit District 9 - Lidgerwood/ Wyndmere Red River Communications 510 Broadway | PO Box 136 Abercrombie, ND 58001 522 Dakota Ave Wahpeton, ND 58075 Questions? Service issues? Call 866-553-8309

Follow us On Social Media

Cover Photo: Ardes Moore, a Cooperative member, was happy to attend the Annual Meeting.

facebook.com/redrivercommunications @redrivercommunications

Produced by the team at Red River Communications

instagram.com/redrivercommunications 11


PO Box 136 | 510 Broadway Abercrombie, ND 58001

Summer Events Summer is just around the corner, and we are excited to get outside! Mark your calendar for the following dates and watch our website, Facebook, and Instagram for more summer fun!

June

JUNE 23 – 5-7:30 PM | CUSTOMER APPRECIATION PICNIC – WMSTR IN ROLLAG JUNE 28 – 5-7:30 PM | CUSTOMER APPRECIATION PICNIC – WYNDMERE PARK

July

JULY 12 – 1-4PM | POOL DAY – COLFAX SWIMMING POOL JULY 21 – 3-6PM | POOL DAY – LIDGERWOOD SWIMMING POOL JULY 26 – 3-6PM | CAROUSEL & ICE CREAM DAY – CHAHINKAPA PARK

Aug.

AUG. 11 – 5-7:30 PM | CUSTOMER APPRECIATION PICNIC – FAIRMOUNT PARK

LOCATIONS & OFFICE HOURS

HELP DESK

BILL PAY

510 Broadway, Abercrombie 522 Dakota Ave, Wahpeton Monday-Friday 8:00am to 4:30pm

Need assistance? We’re here 24/7 to help you! 866-553-8309

No added fees! Online or by phone. 855-386-9905 redrivercomm.com

(Wahpeton closed Noon - 1pm)

Your FiberFASTTM Internet Provider

redrivercomm.com


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