CV Presidents Annual Address 2023
As the President of the Board, I am honored to address you, my fellow Chariton Valley Telephone Cooperative Members. I invite you to participate in our annual membership meeting on October 12, 2023. This event is open to members and will be live-streamed on Facebook. Important business will be conducted, including the election of three new board members. I am pleased to report that the change to electronic voting has made it convenient for more members to be involved than ever before. Before this change, about 6% of our membership actively participated in the election process. I am happy to report that 22.94% of our members voted last year.
We all know life can be busy. But with the ease of electronic voting, I encourage you to exercise your right to vote for the candidates you feel best represent your interests in our cooperative. Please take some time to read through the candidate profiles before casting your electronic ballot. You will be receiving a letter from Survey & Ballot Systems, our electronic voting system provider. The instructions will include your credentials (username and password) needed to vote during the two-week voting window. I would also encourage you to explore www.cvalley.net, Members Minute, where you can see frequently asked questions and a wealth of other information, such as the list of unclaimed capital credits.
This is a very exciting time for the communications industry and specifically for our company. We are experiencing unprecedented grant funding opportunities to deploy broadband to those with no service or poor-quality service. One thing everyone learned when the pandemic hit was that reliable broadband service is vital for everyone. This is not a luxury service anymore; it is an essential utility service. So, in much the same way as many years ago when cooperatives were formed across the country to provide wireline telephone service to all including Rural America, the legislators have banned together to provide funding for companies who can get this vital service out to all. We know that fiber is the most reliable way to provide high-speed broadband to our members and customers. But when it costs on average $25,000 per mile to deploy fiber, it is cost-prohibitive without outside funding. I am proud to inform you that due to the diligent work of our dedicated employees who successfully applied for grants and worked with local and state governments, Chariton Valley has placed 550 miles of fiber over the past year. Continuing our investment in fiber will provide long-term revenue and financial stability for the company.
At this time Chariton Valley Telephone Cooperative has one exchange remaining to fully complete the fiber build, which is Jacksonville in the rural areas. I want to assure you that your board holds this as a high priority and is committed to completing it very soon. I recognize that some of you have waited quite a long time for fiber. On behalf of your board, we want to express our appreciation for your patience. We understand that not having reliable broadband service can be a real challenge in your daily lives. Construction will begin soon and once completed, 100% of our members will have the best broadband service available anywhere in the industry, and we plan to celebrate that! Watch for additional details on that to come.
In January the board began an evaluation process and spent several months evaluating the needs of the company; our members, customers, and employees. In June we were excited to welcome Ryan Johnson as our new President and CEO. The board is very pleased to see that much has already been accomplished through his leadership, and we look forward to a bright future.
The board remains committed to Chariton Valley’s vision to “Provide Premier Services to Enhance Opportunities for Rural Communities” and being the premier broadband provider in our service area. The board recognizes and values all our great employees’ hard work and dedication. A company is only as good as the people who work there every day, which is precisely why Chariton Valley is the excellent company that it is. We stand out from other telecommunication companies and we are far more advanced than most rural providers. Chariton Valley has been recognized by many local, state, and federal legislators, and they use us as an example to others. That is something to be very proud of!
I also want to express my sincere appreciation to all the board members, past and present, with whom I have had the pleasure of serving. The telecommunications industry is a multifaceted business with many moving parts. Having served on other boards, I didn’t anticipate the work to be much different, but I am here to tell you that this board works very hard on your behalf. We take our responsibilities very seriously and are regularly tasked with making vital, sometimes difficult, decisions. We spend a great deal of time on education and training to help us do the best job we possibly can. I am honored and humbled to serve as President and pledge to always serve you to the best of my abilities.
Chariton Valley Telephone Corporation would not be an amazing community partner and provider without its members. Be sure to vote…. we are counting on you.
Melissa D. Cole
Chariton Valley Telephone Corporation