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Nearly 1,200 of Alliance Communications customers attended the company’s 61th annual meeting on Saturday, April 29, at the Brandon Valley High School in Brandon.
Attendees received a free lunch including pork sandwiches, baked beans, coleslaw, chips, ice cream and beverages, along with numerous opportunities to win cash prizes.
Chief Financial Operator Kari Flanagan began the meeting by presenting Alliance’s financial summary for 2016. Then General Manager Ross Petrick reviewed events that occurred during the previous year.
Alliance’s total Internet, cable TV and phone subscribers grew from 17,842 in 2004 to 32,586 in 2016, he said. Alliance has been growing its subscriber numbers even more this past year by expanding its fiber-optic network into more areas of rural Rock County.
Alliance already serves the Hills and Steen communities in Rock County; however, the cooperative received a state grant and county funding to bring broadband services to additional underserved portions of the area, he said. Network construction started in April 2016, and some customers began receiving services in September 2016. The last installation will be completed at the end of May 2017.
Retransmission and programming fees are continuing to impact customers’ cable TV prices, Petrick said during his presentation. In 2007, Alliance paid programmers $21.58 per customer/month for basic package programming. Alliance now pays programmers $56.10 per customer/month for basic programming, which is an increase of $34.52 over 10 years.
Programming charges now make up 96 percent of a cable TV customer’s bill, Petrick said. The remaining four percent is Alliance’s share, which is used to operate and maintain the cable TV system.
This year Alliance returned $2.37 million in capital credits and special allocations. The average capital credit payment was $122. Alliance is a cooperative and is owned by its customers. The company, therefore, returns excess revenue to customers in their capital credits checks.
Following Petrick’s presentation, Todd Dawley of rural Brandon, Vince Hanson of rural Crooks, Steve Howe of rural Garretson, and Gary Scott of Alcester were then re-elected to three-year terms on the Alliance Communications Board of Directors.
Throughout the event, attendees had several chances to win cash prizes. Bingo and door prize winners won amounts varying from $20 to $100. Alliance gave out more than $2,000 in cash prizes during the event.
Alliance Communications holds an annual meeting every spring, and all cooperative customers are invited to attend.