A record number of registered members — 603 in total — attended the New Hope Telephone Cooperative Annual Meeting on May 19. Neighbors and newcomers packed the hallways of New Hope Elementary and Middle School, as employees served popcorn and lemonade and gave away t-shirts and other items.
Families packed the auditorium as Nashville-based country singer Melissa Ramski sang classic hits and a few tunes of her own during a two-hour set. NHTC employees drew names for raffled gifts, handing out a number of electronic devices and vouchers for NHTC services. Three flat-screen TVs were also given as prizes, with the grand prize 50-inch HD Vizio won by James Sutphin.
During the business meeting portion of the evening, NHTC management gave a review for 2014. “During this past year, we have continued to add new programming, currently offering up to 260 channels, which includes 75 HD channels on our fiber network,” said General Manager Jim Cook. He also announced the addition of the SEC Network.
The fiber-to-the-home network is the largest project NHTC has ever undertaken, connecting more than 450 subscribers in 2014 with plans to add more than 700 others during 2015.
The financial news was also good. “Jim Cook and our employees negotiated bid prices and changed a few vendors, leading to a savings of $1.7 million dollars,” NHTC Board President Jim Duncan told the crowd. “Keep in mind that those cost adjustments will continue saving money annually for years to come.”
A video presentation by Cook highlighted a number of accomplishments
- Total NHTC assets reached $38.3 million, including a $3.5 million increase with fiber-optic infrastructure.
- NHTC board of directors approved plans for completing the fiber project without additional debt.
- Long-term debt was reduced by $1.3 million during 2014.
- Operational revenue increased by 5.6 percent, or $646,000.
- Operating expenses were reduced $266,000, creating a record high operating margin of $2.5 million.
- FCC commitment to develop the Connect America Fund, partnering with NTCA, to provide support and sustainability to rural broadband networks.
- NHTC has gained subscribers, adding 2.4 percent to the membership.
- The broadband customer base also grew by 6.5 percent.
- NHTC’s Security Solutions was unveiled, offering home security and home automation.
- NHTC subscribers now have access to WatchTVeverywhere, enabling them to watch more than 30 networks on their electronic devices.
- Programming rate hikes from ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX have caused NHTC content costs to increase by more than $4 a month per subscriber.
The New Hope Telephone Cooperative’s board of directors following the annual meeting on May 19. (Front row, from left) Jeffrey Cantrell, secretary; Jim Duncan, president; Garland Elders, vice president; and Mike Whitaker, treasurer. (Back row, from left) Andrew Sieja, NHTC attorney; Jim Cook, general manager; Jeff Cooper; Barry Jones; Greg Glover; Randy Morrison; Calvin Bearden; and Mac Martinson, NHTC attorney.