The 61st Annual Meeting of Members for Tri-County Telephone Association, Inc. (TCT) was held Tuesday, March 26th, 2024, at the Herington Community Building.  Two Hundred and eight people attended the event. A meal, catered by The Pick-Up Line, was served to members prior to the meeting.

Following the meal Vice-President Chad Tischhauser introduced the 2024 TCT Board Scholarship winners. Scholarships are given to graduating high school seniors, who maintain a 2.5 GPA and have a parent or legal guardian who are members of the cooperative. A $1,000 scholarship is awarded for each of TCT’s voting districts and one “District At Large” scholarship. Scholarship winners were:  District #1 – Kolby Rose, the son of Scott and Jennifer Rose. Kolby attends Council Grove High School and will be attending Kansas State University. District #2 –Aubree Young, the daughter of Linsey Hickman. Aubree attends Council Grove High School and will be attending Emporia State University. District #3 – Alexandria Stuchlik, the daughter of Daniel and Melissa Stuchlik. Alexandria attends Centre High School and will be attending Kansas State University. District #4 – Angie Linder, the daughter of Thomas and Debra Linder. Angie attends Hope High School and will be attending Cloud County Community College. District #5 –Kiele Tyner, the daughter of Zack Tyner. Kiele attends Council Grove High School and will be attending Barton County Community College. At Large- Colton Jacobson, the son of Michael and Annette Jacobson. Colton attends Hope High School and will be attending Fort Hays State University.

Following the presentation of scholarships President Tiffany opened the business meeting with an invocation and called on TCT Board Attorney, Joe Knopp, to affirm that a quorum was present in accordance with the by-laws. Mr. Knopp affirmed that there were 138 members in attendance for a quorum. President Tiffany then announced the notice of meeting and asked for an approval of the 2023 minutes. The motion was approved. The members of the Board were recognized, District #2 – Gary Smith, District #3 Luke Wingerd, District #4- Carrie Shippy, District #5-Ryan McDonald, At Large East District- Chad Tischhauser, and At Large District West – Dan Reiff.

President Tiffany then introduced TCT Controller, Jason Pettit, who gave the financial report. Mr. Pettit reported that the financials of the Cooperative are healthy, according to the recent audit. He then went over in detail the assets, liabilities and equity, income statement and cash flow of the company. Mr. Pettit asked for questions from the membership, there were no questions. President Tiffany then asked for a motion to approve the financial report, the motion was approved.

President Tiffany gave the President’s remarks. He noted that the world is radically different from when he was a child. He illustrated how kids use technology to interact with each other how kids today cultivate friendships that span the entire state and country. He expounded that businesses use technology in similar ways to cultivate customer          relationships, find employees and access resources.  He used his daughters’ plans to open a Farmstand business as an example. They plan to communicate to potential customers through social media and other online platforms. President Tiffany then spoke about how technology had once been the cause of the exodus of young people from agriculture in rural areas but now technology is being used to bring people back to Rural America. President Tiffany touched on how the departure of the Baby Boomers and women from the job market are compelling businesses to look to automation and other technical innovations to help employees be more efficient. He concluded his remarks by acknowledging that change is often hard but that he is excited to see how technology will benefit rural areas over the next 5 to 20 years. He also assured the membership that TCT is prepared to support these changes by providing the technology needed in the future.

Following the President’s report C.E.O., Dale Jones, addressed the membership. In his presentation Mr. Jones thanked several employees who have either recently retired or who are planning to retire. He noted that a combine 80 plus years of experience will be lost with these retirements. Mr. Jones assured the members that TCT is mindful of this and is taking steps to hire and train quality employees to sustain the cooperative into the future. Mr. Jones then updated members on the growth opportunities of the Cooperative. TCT has written a Broadband Acceleration Grant (BAG) for rural areas to the east and west of Hillsboro, in Marion County. The upcoming Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Grant (BEAD) will be considered for building out to rural areas in Dickinson, Wabaunsee, and Marion Counties. All these grant programs are overseen by the State of Kansas, under the Department of Commerce’s Broadband Development Office.

Mr. Jones continued his presentation by informing members on the statuses of the Cooperative’s investments in Hayden Town Company and NexTech Wireless (NTW). He explained the challenges with labor, and economic volatility that Hayden Tower Company had to traverse in 2023. He also explained how leadership plans to overcome these challenges and why he believes 2024 promises to be more profitable. Next Mr. Jones went over the successes of NTW in the past year, including the company’s growth and diversification efforts. Mr. Jones concluded his remarks by stating that by growing the network and continuing to diversify investments, the Cooperative will maintain a healthy financial position into the future.

President Tiffany resumed the meeting by announcing that incumbent District #2 Board member, Gary Smith received no challenging applications or petitions. Therefore, per TCT by-laws, he was reappointed. He then announced that incumbent Board Member Luke Wingerd was re-elected for District #3. President Tiffany then introduced TCT Marketing Director, Scott Bankes, who announced the winners of the prize drawings:

$20 – Leona Hajek, James Bolieu, Dean Holdsworth, Elaine Kickhaefer, Rosalie Rudolph, Betty Hoover, Marcia Falen, Jim Peterson, Ron Graham, Sally Spooner

$50 – Patty Fells, Phillip Wilmore, Dale Kleinschmidt, LaVada Holub, Sandy Carlson, Denise Bina, Chris Stuchlik, Gary Rowley, Kathryn Albrecht, Anne Owens, Eunice Steiner

$100 – Mary Ruhnke, Don Hostetter

$200 – Richard Klenda

TV – Roxie Smithson

President Tiffany then called for unfinished business from the floor. There was none. He then called for new business from the floor. There was none. He thanked everyone for coming and asked for a motion to adjourn. The motion was approved.