NDATC watching directions emerging at state, federal levels
From magazine staff
NDATC general manager
David Crothers, general manager of the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives (NDATC), says the directions of the new North Dakota governor, state Legislature, United States president and U.S. Congress will be watched carefully by the association.
“The work of the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperatives will never be more important than it is as we approach the Legislature's upcoming session in Bismarck,” Crothers says. “Not only were there a record number of legislator retirements prior to the election, there was considerable turnover in legislators at the ballot box.”
Crothers says while specific policy plans of the new Legislature – and of Gov.-elect Doug Burgum – remain to be revealed, NDATC is prepared to continue to advocate strongly on behalf of rural telecom consumers.
“The members of our association remain committed to ensuring that rural North Dakotans continue to have access to the broadband service they need for their educational and economic prosperity at affordable prices,” he says.
Crothers adds the state Legislature has always had a keen understanding and appreciation of the many challenges of providing state-of-the-art broadband in North Dakota. “This support has been crucial to the fantastic deployment of fiber to the home and lightning-fast broadband speeds rural residents of our state have access to today,” he says.
At the federal level, Crothers says the election of Donald Trump as president signals change coming to the leadership and priorities of federal agencies, which should shape the agenda of the new Congress.
“Change will come to the majority and make-up of the Federal Communications Commission in ways that are unpredictable right now,” Crothers says. “We, along with our partners at NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, will continue to advocate strenuously before the FCC on behalf of all North Dakotans.
West River Telecom supporting Sakakawea Medical Center
From magazine staff
West River Telecom (WRT), Hazen, has taken a recent big step to help advance health care in its service area. WRT is the recipient of a $1 million loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development Loan program. The cooperative will relend that funding to help purchase a state-of-the-art CT scanner and radiology equipment for the new 53,000-square-foot Sakakawea Medical Center (SMC) currently under construction in the community of Hazen.
“WRT participates in this program because it is important that we be partners in communities in which we serve and help enrich our members’ lives,” says WRT CEO Troy Schilling.
“Sakakawea Medical Center is a great community partner in Hazen and the surrounding communities,” Schilling continued. “They continue to utilize advanced technology to serve their patients, who are also our members. The new facility they are building shows their commitment to the area extends far into the future.”
USDA Rural Development State Director Ryan Taylor indicates rural economic development support for cooperatives is important to that agency, and its national mission.
“We are proud to support cooperatives as they cooperate to build new economic opportunities, and, as importantly, a renewed sense of community in North Dakota,” Taylor says.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development has invested more than $3.2 billion in North Dakota to start or expand businesses and cooperatives, build essential community facilities, build out utility infrastructure and provide affordable housing. To learn more about Rural Development, please visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/nd.