WRCTC is 70 years old this year – 2023 Annual Meeting held

West River Telephone’s relatively new General Manager, Eric Kahler, a 23-year employee of the cooperative in Bison, addressed approximately 125 member-consumers during the Annual Meeting last Monday night. He prefaced his remarks by stating that 2022 had been “a year that involved change,” citing, among other things, the unusual amount of staff changes within the cooperative last year.
Still, he said, “It was a good year for our cooperative” with nearly a $20,000 increase in revenue over 2021. With an increase in interest rates, the board refinanced its debt, realizing $433,644 in interest savings over a five-year period.
Further savings have been realized by ordering supplies ahead to have them available – and to avoid the wait time for delivery and future price increases.
Currently, a new communications network is being installed to replace the former one that was set to reach capacity by 2024. The new system has 40 times the capacity compared to the system it is replacing.   
Forty-five new services and eight new internet customers were added last year. By December 31, 2022, there were 2,981 miles of fiber in service, representing 6,209 square miles and 100% of West River’s consumers being served.
Kahler further reported that, since it’s 1998 inception, the Round-Up program has donated $121,160 in financial assistance to its members who experience hardships.
Kahler’s report, in its entirety, may be found in the “call to meeting” newsletter that was mailed out prior to the meeting.
Last week’s program was dedicated to Don Trohkimoinen, Vale, who has retired from the Board of Directors after 22 years of service. Trohkimoinen was awarded a plaque and a gift card. 
Also recognized for years of service were directors Sandi Helms, Reva, for 20 years and Garrett Schweitzer, Lemmon, for 10 years. Employee Tyrell Ellingson, Lemmon, received a 20-year pin, also. Tommi Jo Rice, Bison, was recognized as a new employee. She began employment on April 17 of this year as the office custodian.
Last Monday’s meeting saw the election of Laura Johnson, Reva, as a new director. She replaces Matt DeBow, Camp Crook, who held the position for nine years. Judy Gano, Meadow, and newcomer Todd Williamson, Newell, were unopposed and unanimously elected to three-year terms. Gano has served 27 years previously; Williamson replaces Don Trohkimoinen upon his retirement.
The brief business meeting ended with several games of Bingo. The first five members to Bingo were given $100 cash. They were Jake Helms, Reva; Kristie Witt and Becky Block, Lemmon; and Karen Englehart and Penny Lemburg, Bison. Oakley Hulce, daughter of Jeremy and Kylie Hulce, Lemmon, won an iPad in the drawing for children.
Veterans in attendance at the annual meeting will receive a $25 bill credit and all members in attendance will be receiving a $20 bill credit in the next billing cycle. Capital Credits from 2009 and 2010 will also appear as a bill credit in October or, if more than $150, a check in the mail.
   See page 6 for more photos.

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