KINGFISHER, OK-SEPTEMBER 30, 2020-Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Inc. is joining together with nearly 40,000 other cooperative businesses nation-wide in October, to celebrate National Cooperative Month. Cooperatives help build stronger communities and a strong economy. “Co-ops Commit: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,” is the theme for this year’s celebration, highlighting how co-ops are creating diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces and boards, and how co-ops can better meet the needs of communities that have been excluded from economic participation and advancement.
Due to COVID-19, Pioneer made the difficult, although safest decision, to not hold its 67th Annual Meeting with Cooperative Members, which is held in May of each year. “We did not want to host the meeting and put the health of our members and employees at risk,” said Richard Ruhl, General Manager.
The pandemic also forced Pioneer’s Board of Trustees and Management, to reschedule the District Elections further out to the month of September. In keeping with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the practice of social distancing, proper hand hygiene and the use of a mask was encouraged to those attending the meetings.
Pioneer remains committed to investing in its communities and youth of the next generation, through its scholarship program for those entering their Junior or Senior year of college. Since the program was implemented in 1991, Pioneer has awarded 331 scholarships, totaling $1,011,927.27.
In August, Pioneer was the recipient of a $24.3 million dollar ReConnect CARES Act Grant, from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Grant will be used to provide fiber broadband to under-served or unserved rural areas, by providing Pioneer with funds for the cost of construction and equipment to bring fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) to connect 4,480 people, 595 farms, 44 businesses and two fire stations to high-speed broadband Internet in Blaine, Dewey, Ellis and Kingfisher counties. Pioneer will be required to match 25 percent of the $24.3 million, meaning the project will come out to an impressive $33.4 million.
Currently, Pioneer has multiple ongoing fiber-optic projects underway, including the 10-year $300 million Alternative Connect America plan project to build-out fiber-optics to several thousand unserved and underserved Cooperative Members, located throughout Central and Western Oklahoma. Pioneer has also committed to investing an estimated $100 million of general funds over ten years to extend Gigabit fiber technology to communities served by the Cooperative that are not covered by A-CAM or the ReConnect CARES Act Grant. By the end of 2020, Pioneer expects the Blanchard, Newcastle, Kingfisher and Hennessey community overbuild projects to be completed.
Those interested in registering your interest to get fiber, are encouraged to visit Pioneer’s website at GoPioneer.com. Once there, click on “Get Fiber” and find the color-coded interactive map that will display the areas currently available, in construction and pre-construction. This will allow Pioneer to keep you informed when fiber construction will start in your neighborhood and other important information.