Carolina-Virginias Telephone Membership Association

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ALLEN RUSS RECEIVES NATIONAL LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD   6/10/2016
Shallotte, NC – ATMC CEO Allen Russ has received the Life Achievement – Manager Award presented by NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association for his dedication to the telecommunications industry. The national award was presented at the 2016 NTCA Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & Expo (RTIME).
Allen Russ’ life is one that has always been connected by telephone lines. His earliest experience in the business can be traced back to when he was just nine years old, traveling around the Exum community with his father to collect the pledges needed to help start the cooperative he would one day lead.
In 1966, Russ began a career that would span 49 years when he went to work with Southern Bell. From working on open wire as a lineman in Wilmington, N.C., to managing his final post in Atlanta with responsibilities for operations in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, his work ethic, drive, and commitment to doing things the right way enabled him to succeed every step of the way.
Following his retirement from BellSouth in 1999, Russ began a second career with ATMC. Within three years, he was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in charge of operations and was named CEO/General Manager in 2006.
ATMC has flourished under Allen Russ’ leadership. Under his direction, the cooperative quadrupled its wireless business, converted an analog cable TV system to all-digital with HD and video on demand, and launched home security, cable modem broadband, and fiber to the home with broadband speeds of one Gig.
Russ also ensured that ATMC applied for and received a grant and loan through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build broadband into portions of neighboring Columbus County. Russ has served as a director on numerous local, regional, and national boards, including NTCA, Carolink, Lower Cape Fear Hospice, Brunswick County Economic Development Foundation, and the BB&T Advisory Board. “Mr. Russ has made serving the local community a top priority. He has led ATMC by example, putting the members first and making himself available to them 24/7,” said Jody Heustess, Vice President, Marketing and Customer Service. He continued, “A friend to the employees, he is quick to share a kind word and a laugh. He takes time to listen to ideas and concerns and has helped instill in each employee a sense of responsibility to serving the members. This has led to ATMC being named “Best in Customer Service” in the Best of Brunswick Awards seven times since 2008.” Mr. Russ has also championed the importance of community engagement by supporting grants, scholarships, and one of the most successful United Way campaigns in the region.
“We congratulate Mr. Russ on receiving this well-deserved award,” commented Doug Hawes, ATMC Board President. He added, “His determination, aptitude, and foresight have served him well in a remarkable career that has spanned five decades. Because of him, ATMC and the community it serves are stronger.”
ATMC is a member-owned cooperative providing a multitude of communications services, including telephone, business systems, wireless, Internet/Broadband, cable television service, and ATMC Security, in Brunswick County, NC. Serving Brunswick County since 1957, the cooperative currently provides service to more than 36,000 members and employs more than 200 local residents. ATMC is the largest telephone cooperative in North Carolina and one of the largest in the country. Visit them at www.atmc.com.
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use. Visit them at www.ntca.org.

Telco Member News
JIMMY BLEVINS RECOGNIZED WITH MANAGEMENT INNOVATION AWARD AT NTCA ANNUAL MEETING   6/10/2016
Blevins Recognized with Management Innovation Award at NTCA Annual Meeting
WEST JEFFERSON, N.C. — NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association recognized rural telecommunications providers during the Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & EXPO in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in late February, for their achievements and service to the telecommunications industry, and SkyLine Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jimmy Blevins was among the honorees.
Seven individuals received individual achievement awards, and Blevins was recognized with the “Management Innovation Award.” Blevins received the award for his ongoing efforts to make innovative changes to diversify the company’s revenue opportunities and place the focus on the needs of the customer.
After assuming the role of SkyLine CEO in July 2008, Blevins immediately began making innovative changes, some of which were subtle operational changes while others were more globally minded and customer-focused, such as the deployment of a Smart Home, creation of The Video Exchange and several unique service offerings. Blevins is an engineer by education. Prior to his current role, he led the company’s Engineering and Plant Operations for several years and was the architect of SkyLine’s present network. Below is a summary of Blevins’ innovative achievements that were recognized by NTCA.
Smart Home
Blevins devised a plan to introduce home automation services by converting an existing cabin into a “Smart Home” on commercial property that had been purchased by SkyLine to construct a new Retail Center. The Smart Home in West Jefferson is a full-service telecommunications retail center that gives customers a real-time look at innovative Smart Home features, enabled through SkyBest’s broadband, automation and surveillance services.
Weekender Internet
Blevins developed a ‘Weekender Internet’ service offering for part-time residents who wanted Internet during their weekend visits to their mountain homes but felt there was not enough value in paying for an entire month’s service.
One-to-One Initiative
Working collaboratively with Alleghany County’s Superintendent of Schools, Blevins addressed a need relating to its ‘one-to-one initiative,’ where high school students received a laptop but due to low income, could not afford Internet access at home. Realizing the school’s Internet backhaul was not being utilized at night, Blevins devised a solution for the school to purchase circuits through SkyLine to connect to the students’ homes and tie back into the school’s IT network. In 2012, this school was one of 10 schools/districts in the state recognized by the N.C. Governor with the “Innovator in Digital Learning” award.
The Video Exchange
After SkyLine deployed a local content channel as part of its TV service line-up, Blevins approached his peers in the rural telecom industry regarding the need for additional content and found that some companies had ample content while others needed content. To satisfy a need on both sides of the content equation, he developed the concept for an eCommerce site and a new subsidiary of SkyBest called “The Video Exchange,” where companies can purchase or sell video content.
NTCA’s national awards are voted on by the association’s Awards Committee, which is composed of NTCA members. NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield presented the awards during the Rural Telecom Industry Meeting & EXPO Awards Banquet on February 24.
NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America. NTCA advocates on behalf of its members in the legislative and regulatory arenas, and it provides training and development; publications and industry events; and an array of employee benefit programs. In an era of exploding technology, deregulation and marketplace competition, NTCA’s members are leading the IP evolution for rural consumers, delivering technologies that make rural communities vibrant places in which to live and do business. Because of their efforts, rural America is fertile ground for innovation in economic development and commerce, education, health care, government services, security and smart energy use.
About SkyLine
Established in 1951, SkyLine is a member-owned cooperative which provides a variety of telecommunications services to customers in Alleghany, Ashe, Avery and Watauga counties in North Carolina and Johnson County in east Tennessee. Along with its current focus of building a fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) network, SkyLine is committed to enhancing the quality of life across the region through various charitable, educational and economic development programs. Its wholly-owned subsidiary, SkyBest Communications, offers de-regulated products and services, including broadband Internet services, voice services, business systems and networking solutions, home/business security monitoring and medical alert, digital TV service and home automation/surveillance.

Telco Member News
Robert Hester Recognized by Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce    6/10/2016
Board President Recognized by Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
On Tuesday night, June 21, one of Star Communications’ own will be presented a most-prestigious award by the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at its Annual Awards Banquet. The award, the Honorary Lifetime Achievement Member of the Year, will be presented to Mr. Robert G. Hester on behalf of the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for his service and dedication to Bladen County.
As stated by Dawn Maynard, Director of the Chamber, “Mr. Hester is someone who has been a business leader for decades. He selflessly serves on many boards and the Chamber did not want his support and attendance of Chamber events to go unrecognized.”
Mr. Hester, born in 1938, is a graduate of Bladenboro High School, the Carolina School of Broadcasting and attended Southeastern Community College, as well as numerous classes and schools at the UNC School of Government in Chapel Hill. In 1960, he married the former Sarah Clark of Clarkton. Together, the Hesters have two children, Rick and John. Rick and his wife, Caroline, reside in Smithfield where he is the County Manager for Johnston County. John lives in Dunn and is a truck driver for Food Lion Distribution Center in Dunn. Mr. Hester is the proud grandfather of two grandchildren, Brooks and Morgan. Brooks is an N.C. State graduate and is an Account Executive for Lenova Computers. Morgan is a UNC graduate and will be entering the ECU School of Dentistry in September.
Mr. Hester entered the work-force in 1960 at Top Mode Manufacturing Company in Elizabethtown and never slowed down. In 1963, he went to work at WBLA, which is now WGQR Radio Station in Elizabethtown, where he served as owner for five years. From 1982 until his retirement in 2007, Mr. Hester worked with the N.C. Association of County Commissioners (NCACC) as Director of Member Services. From 2007 until 2013, Mr. Hester was the owner/manager of BladenOnline.com, Bladen’s online newspaper. If you are familiar with BladenOnline.com, you have most-likely read Mr. Hester’s popular column, “Thoughts While Shaving”. He also served on the Bladen County Commissioners of which he was Chairman for five years; served on the NCACC Board of Directors of which he was Co-Chair of Legislative Goals; and received the NCACC Outstanding County Commissioner Award in 1979.
A most-humble gentleman, Mr. Hester was very slow to take credit for his accomplishments. One thing he did speak of was while he served on the Bladen County Commissioners, he was on the steering committee to bring doctors to Elizabethtown. “All the doctors in town were in their 70’s and we saw the urgent need to secure doctors for our town. Over several years, we worked to find a doctor who would eventually, after fulfilling his military obligation, open his practice in Elizabethtown.” The project, several years in the making, ended up with other doctors coming to town and the building, from the ground up, of a doctors’ office complex.
A very civic-minded individual, Mr. Hester was a member of the Elizabethtown Jaycees, the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce of which he was President from 1970-71, the Bladen County Committee of 100, the Bladen County Hospital Executive Committee, the Bladen County Economic Development Committee, the Southeastern Regional Mental Health Board from 1978-79 and the Lumber River Council of Government Executive Committee. He is also a Charter member of the Elizabethtown Rescue Squad. He continues to support Bladen We Care, a non-profit support group for medically deprived in Bladen County. He is also the Past President of the Bladen County Hospital Foundation.
In 1992, Mr. Hester joined Star’s Board of Directors and has served as President of the Board for the past 15 years. While serving on Star’s Board, Mr. Hester has also served on the Carolina/Virginias Telco Cooperative Board of Directors where he has served as Past President, and the Governmental Affairs Committee of NTCA.
Mr. Hester’s faith and love of the Lord is also evident in his daily life. He has been a member of Wesley’s Chapel United Methodist Church since 1963. In serving his church, Mr. Hester has served in many capacities such as, the Administrative Board for 40 years in which he is Chairman, Chairman of Finance and Chairman of Staff-Parrish Committee.
In 2013, Mr. Hester was honored by being presented the N.C. Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is the most prestigious award presented by the Governor of North Carolina. The award is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state. He is also an Inductee in the NCACC Hall of Fame Class of 2014.
Mr. Hester has lived a life filled with service to his church, community and state. While Mr. Hester is very appreciative of this latest in a long list of accomplishments, he very humbly stated, “I was just a small part of all the things that have made up my life. I have been fortunate to work with many other dedicated people during my lifetime. My accomplishments are not mine alone, but are to be shared by many, including Sarah, whose full support I have always had, along with the support of other members of my family.”
We congratulate Mr. Hester on being named the Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Honorary Lifetime Achievement Member of the Year. On behalf of Star Communications, we thank you for all you have done to make Bladen County a better place to call home and for all you do for Star Communications. Best wishes in all your future endeavors!

Telco Member News
ATMC Board Names O’Neal Miller General Manager/CEO   4/29/2016
ATMC Board Names O’Neal Miller General Manager/CEO
Shallotte, NC — The Board of Directors for Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation (ATMC) has announced that O’Neal Miller has been named General Manager and Chief Executive Officer after former General Manager Roger Cox stepped away from the position due to medical reasons.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Miller comes to ATMC following 35 years of service at Conway, S.C. based Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC), where he held the position of Chief Executive – Financial Operations for 25 years until his retirement in 2013. While at HTC, Miller played an integral role in helping the company grow into the largest telephone cooperative in the nation.
During his career, Miller served in leadership positions on a variety of industry-related regional and state boards. He is a past recipient of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) Management Achievement Award, an accolade presented annually to one recipient chosen from more than 500 independent telephone companies across the United States.
“The Board and I are pleased to welcome Mr. Miller,” said Douglas Hawes, President of the ATMC Board of Directors. “His record of success says a great deal about his leadership ability, and his level of experience and comprehensive knowledge of the communications industry make him an excellent choice to lead ATMC.”
“I am very excited about the opportunity to lead this organization,” commented Miller. “I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for ATMC. The strong position the cooperative is in is a testament to the vision and outstanding job done by the ATMC Board of Directors and former General Managers Allen Russ and Roger Cox.”
ATMC is a member-owned cooperative providing a multitude of communications services, including telephone, long distance, business systems, residential security and home automation, Internet/broadband, and cable television service in Brunswick County. Chartered in 1955, the cooperative currently provides service to more than 37,000 members and is the largest communications cooperative in North Carolina.
Contact: Daphne Yarbrough-Jones
Public Relations Manager
Telephone: (910) 755-1755
FAX: (910) 754-5499
​Email: dyarbrough@atmc.coop

Telco Member News
BCCC Foundation elects new board chair   4/19/2016
BCCC Foundation elects new board chair
WASHINGTON, NC— Greg Coltrain will be filling the position left vacant by the passing of Dr. Charles Boyette in March 2016 as board chair for the Beaufort County Community College Foundation. Helen Sommerkamp Inman began the April 19 meeting with a eulogy for Dr. Boyette, a man she worked with closely over the years during their time together on the board. The BCCC Foundation awards scholarships to students attending the College as well as handling grants from outside institutions. Last year the Foundation helped reduce the debt burden on students and made quality education even more accessible at BCCC by awarding 112 scholarships totaling over $85,000.
During their meeting, the BCCC Foundation board elected Coltrain as the new board chair. Dr. Boyette had held the position for 31 years. This makes Coltrain only the second board chair in the Foundation’s existence. Inman was elected to stay on as vice chair of the board.
Greg Coltrain began his career at TriCounty Telecom as the information systems coordinator in 1997. Prior to being named general manager/CEO in January 2011, he held positions of customer service supervisor, customer service manager and operations manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company. Coltrain holds a Pre-Liberal Arts degree in Business from Beaufort County Community College. He has continued his education in telecommunications technologies through various continuing education opportunities, seminars and workshops. In 2010, he led TriCounty through the largest project it had ever seen with an approximately $16 million fiber-to-the-home expansion. He currently serves as the executive director of the TriCounty Foundation, vice-chair of the Beaufort County Bright Futures Board, vice-chair of the North Carolina Access-On Network Board, serves on the board of the North Carolina Coalition of Telephone Cooperatives and the board of the Carolina Virginia’s Telephone Membership Association. With over 22 years in the Telecom and Broadband industry, he continues to encourage state-of-the-art technologies in our rural area. He and his wife Tiffany, along with their children, live outside of Belhaven and are members of First Baptist Church in Washington.
The meeting featured speeches from Lisa Reid and Karen Taft, two of the Foundation ambassadors. Ambassadors must be nominated by faculty and receive a one-year tuition scholarship. They help market BCCC’s programs and services. Ambassadors must submit a resume and go through an interview process. Lisa Reid will be going on to East Carolina University this summer with the intention to become a marriage and family therapist. When she was considering returning to school, she said, “the world of technology had changed since my time in the corporate world, so BCCC made sense” as a college to reboot her education. Karen Taft had made several attempts at college, but was not successful until enrolling at BCCC. She said she appreciated the small class sizes. Her mathematics instructor, Gretchen Thompson, helped her overcome her fear of math. She said that BCCC had “given her a chance to fulfill [her] dream.”
Serena Sullivan, executive director of the BCCC Foundation, reported that the Foundation initiated 3 new scholarships and 2 new endowments over the last year. She also gave reports about the cost effectiveness of this year’s Gullfest Spring Scholarship Festival over last years. She also discussed the plans for the upcoming golf tournament the Foundation will host as a fundraiser on October 21, 2016. There will be a dinner the night before, October 20, at the Washington Yacht and Country Club.
BCCC will dedicate a memorial tree to Dr. Charles Boyette at 10:00 a.m. on May 25 in honor of his service to the College. New members of the board will be initiated on July 1 at which time outgoing board members will step down.

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