The Foundation for Rural Service has announced that the applications for the 2022 FRS Scholarships and the James L. Bass Legal Scholarship are now open! Go to frs.org/scholarship for the link to the applications.

In 2023, FRS will award over $100,000 in scholarships to students sponsored by our NTCA members. 

FRS 2023 Scholarship Application Flyer

Sapp Announces Retirement at Citizens’ Annual Meeting

The 2022 Annual Meeting of Citizens Telephone Cooperative was held on Saturday, October 15th, at the Citizens’ office on Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Over 160 members were in attendance for the meeting announcing new milestones for the company.

Members were greeted by Citizens employees and received member gifts. Attendees had the opportunity to see first-hand and learn about the company’s new IPTV product, SFN TV Now. Central Office Technician Jay Conner conducted an educational demonstration of the new TV platform for the attendees prior to the meeting. “We are here for our customers each step of the way as we transition from and close down our digital TV headend to the new SFN TV Now IPTV platform,” stated Conner.

Citizens CEO and General Manager, Greg Sapp began the meeting with a welcome to members for the second Annual Meeting held in Citizens’ multipurpose shelter which comfortably accommodated those in attendance. President Wesley Goff opened the meeting, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and gave the President’s Report. Secretary Shelby Quesenberry read the minutes from the last meeting and Director Jonathan Vest presented the re-election of Board members Kevin Hubbard (Ballard exchange), Daniel Grim (Floyd exchange), and Rhonda Turpin (Willis exchange).

Mr. Sapp returned to the podium to report on the Cooperative’s progress of the ACAM Fiber to the Home project. To date, only 27% of the project construction remains. When complete in 2023, Floyd County will be 100% covered with fiber optic Internet technology for current and future technology needs. Sapp also shared that through partial funding from the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative
(VATI) Citizens can now serve residents in Copper Hill with Gigabit (1Gbps) Internet. In conjunction with DSL to Fiber Internet conversions, Sapp reported that in just the last few months Citizens has connected over 600 customers with the new SFN TV Now IPTV platform. The new TV technology reportedly saves customers from paying additional on their monthly TV package for HD, PVR services, and set-top boxes.

Lastly in Sapp’s report, he announced that he would be retiring from Citizens Telephone Cooperative in November of 2022 after 29 years and that the Cooperative will be in good hands with newly selected Donna Hylton Smith as Citizens’ new General Manager. He thanked everyone for the opportunities over the years and for allowing him to serve them.

Smith is a Virginia Tech graduate and Floyd county resident whose family has generational roots in the company. Smith’s grandfather, Maynard Hylton, was Plant Manager at the time of his retirement in 1979. Smith’s father, Donald Hylton, was a contractor for the company prior to his retirement. Donna has been at Citizens for 21 years. In Smith’s statement, she commented “It is an honor to be selected for this position and continue the work started generations ago. I am excited to continue to serve the community where I was raised and now have my own family. Greg leaves big shoes to fill but with our team of dedicated employees, we will strive to make him proud and continue to bring our customers the best service around. Thank you, Greg, for your leadership. Thank you, Directors, for your support and confidence in me.” Donna resides in Floyd with her husband, Danny Smith, and children Jacob and Emma.

Traditions of the annual meeting continued with door prize drawings for members. Prizes awarded were: a Dewalt tool set, a Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum, a 13-piece cookware set, a smart clock, Armor All Car Kit, a 10” Fire HD tablet, a portable air compressor, and a 50” Roku TV. The meeting was followed by a catered meal by Blue Ridge Diner of Floyd.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting will be on the third Saturday of October 2023.

FLOYD — When it comes to Floyd County, Greg Sapp said he doesn’t think families attracted by the charm and culture of the rural community should move here at the cost of some technological benefits.

“People choose to live in a rural area for the quality of life,” he said, “but we want them to have access to various services, services they need to live their life, to learn.”

Read the full article at The Roanoke Times >>

"FLOYD — This rural community, known for its beautiful upland landscapes and progressive attitudes, just got its first publicly accessible electric vehicle charging station.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative announced July 6 the modest yet notable arrival of a new era at its Webbs Mill Road office with the installation of a ‘CitiZap’ 240-volt charger with two outlets."

Read the full article at The Roanoke Times >>

Citizens Offers Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging to the Public

Citizens Telephone Cooperative (aka Citizens) prides itself on being a leader in technology. The Cooperative has one more year of construction in its fiber-to-the-home project deploying fiber optics throughout Floyd County. This project is making Gigabit (1Gbps) Internet available throughout the rural community. As a technology leader, the company added an electric car to the vehicle fleet. “A 2021 Chevy Bolt that never needs gas and never needs an oil change,” stated Greg Sapp, the General Manager of Citizens. “The Bolt has a range of around 259 miles making it a perfect choice for use in and around the New River Valley.” continued Sapp.

This is a totally different type of vehicle for the company and it is where the industry is headed. How would a company use such a vehicle? The WAN team takes it to work on equipment at a colocation site, Central Office can drive to work at a remote site, and our Business Development uses it to meet with commercial customers across our service territories.

EV 1

As more electric vehicles are passing through the Town daily, Citizens has installed an EV Charging Station calling it “CitiZap”. As with any new technology, there is a learning curve. There are multiple types of charging stations. Citizens installed a Level 2 Fast Charging Station with an SAE J1772 plug. This type of charging station will fully charge a battery such as in the Chevy Bolt in about 6 to 8 hours. It’s a 240-volt charger (like a clothes dryer connection) and yields roughly 25 miles per hour of charge.

“We want to make charging easy for our customers and guests in our area,” said WAN Technician, Dean Wood. The company’s charging station has two plugs. The EV, CitiZap, charging station has a QR Code on each charging plug. The customer will download the EvGateway App from Google Play or Apple App Store and scan or swipe an RFID to connect, charge, and pay for the EV charge at 20 cents per kWh.

Citizens held an unveiling on July 1, 2022, making the unit available for public use during the Independence Day holiday. Citizens is now listed on plugshare.com, chargehub.com, and other sites when searching online for an EV charging station.

For more information, visit www.citizens.coop or call 540.745.2111. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Citizens Business Solutions include customized hosted phone and symmetrical Ethernet offerings. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby hours are 8 am-6 pm Monday - Friday; 9 am - 1 pm on Saturday.

CitiZap Electric Vehicle Charging Station

Mandatory 10-Digit Dialing to Begin on May 14, 2022
for Customers with the Virginia 540 Area Code

All customers with the 540 area code should prepare for the start of 10-digit dialing and the introduction of the new 826 area code.

The 826 area code will be added as an overlay to the 540 region. An overlay is the addition of another area code (826) to the same geographic region
served by an existing area code (540). An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code, but does require customers to dial the area code to complete local calls.

Beginning May 14, 2022, all local calls made within the VA 540 area code must be placed using 10 digits (area code + the 7-digit telephone number). On and after this date, calls placed using just 7 digits will not be completed.

Beginning June 14, 2022, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 826 area code.

The key facts for consumers to know about the upcoming VA 540/826 area code overlay are:

  • Your current telephone number, including current area code, will not change.
  • If you seek new phone service on and after June 14, 2022, you may be assigned a phone number with the 826 area code.
  • You will need to dial the area code + telephone number for all local calls, including calls within the same area code.
  • You will continue to dial 1 + area code + telephone number for all long-distance calls.
  • What is a local call now will remain a local call.
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 911. You can also dial three digits to reach 211 and 811, as well as 311 and 511, where available.

Please remember to identify your telephone number as a 10-digit number and include the area code when giving the number to friends, family, business associates, and customers, etc.

Customers should ensure all services, automatic dialing equipment, applications, software, or other types of equipment are reprogrammed to dial 10 digits if they are programmed to dial just 7 digits and recognize the new 826 area code as a valid area code. Examples include life-safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, gates, ankle monitors, speed dialers, mobile phone contact lists, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions. Be sure to check your business stationery, advertising materials, personal checks, and your personal or pet ID tags to ensure the area code is included in your telephone number.

Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, alarms, and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing. Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use 7 digits. Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing. Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done by May 14, 2022.

Remember that all local calls must be programmed using 10 digits, and add ‘1’ for all long-distance calls.

For additional information, please visit the Virginia State Corporation Commission at https://www.scc.virginia.gov or contact your local telephone service provider.

Each year Foundation for Rural Service Scholarships is awarded by regions across rural America. Citizens would love to see students in our service area receive these scholarships. Scholarships range from $2,500 - $7,000.  The application window is open until Friday, February 25, 2022.

Visit frs.org/programs/youth-programs/scholarships/ for details and application.

All Customers with a Virginia 540 Area Code Must Dial Area Code + Telephone Number for All Local Calls Beginning May 14, 2022

To ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers, the Virginia State Corporation Commission approved the addition of the new 826 area code to the geographic region served by the 540 area code. This process is known as an area code overlay.

dialing-areas

What is an area code overlay?

An overlay is the addition of another area code (826) to the same geographic region as an existing area code (540). An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code or telephone number but does require using a new dialing procedure to complete calls.

Who will be affected?

Anyone with a 540 area code telephone number will be affected. The 540 area code currently serves the northwestern and southwestern portions of Virginia. Some of the larger cities include Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Radford, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Winchester. The new 826 area code will serve the same geographic area currently served by the existing 540 area code.

What will be the new dialing procedure?

The new dialing procedure requires all calls in the 540 area code that are currently dialed with seven digits to be dialed using area code + telephone number. The same dialing procedure will apply to telephone numbers that are assigned with the new 826 area code.

When will the change begin?

Beginning May 14, 2022, you must dial the area code + telephone number on all calls, including calls within the same area code. On and after this date, if you do not dial the area code + telephone number, your calls will not complete and a recording will instruct you to hang up and dial again, including the area code.

Beginning June 14, 2022, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers with the new 826 area code. If you have an 826 area code, you must dial the area code + telephone number or the call will not complete.

What will you need to do?

In addition to dialing the area code + telephone number for all local calls, all services, automatic dialing equipment, or other types of equipment that are programmed to dial a 7-digit number will need to be reprogrammed to include the area code. Some examples are life safety systems and medical monitoring devices, fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates, PBXs, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, speed dialers, call forwarding settings, voicemail services, and similar functions, etc. You should update your websites, personal and business stationery and checks, advertising materials, personal and pet ID tags, and other such items to ensure the area code is included.

What will remain the same?

  • Your telephone number, including the current area code, will not change.
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the overlay.
  • What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed.
  • You can still dial just three digits to reach 911, as well as 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, 711, or 811 if those are currently available in your community.

Who may you contact with questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information provided in this notice, please call Citizens Telephone Cooperative at 540.745.2111, or access the following websites for more information: citizens.coop/newdialing/ or the Virginia State Corporation Commission at www.scc.virginia.gov.

Citizens’ business hours are Monday thru Friday 8 am - 6 pm, and Saturday 9 am - 1 pm. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County, portions of Ft. Chiswell, New Castle, and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Citizens offers symmetrical business Ethernet and Hosted Phone Solutions, as well as Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd, VA currently assisting customers via Drive-thru only due to Covid restrictions. DCJS #11-9804

Citizens Launches Advanced WiFi for Internet Service, powered by Plume HomePass®

Citizens Telephone Cooperative (Citizens) recently announced a new WiFi offering designed to give customers control over their home Internet network.

Marketed as Citizens Advanced WiFi, this new suite of services -- powered by Plume® HomePass™-- leverages adaptive WiFi and provides customers with an easy-to-use app for managing their home network, which includes monitoring of data usage, setting parental controls, and access permissions for devices, creating guest logins, and more.

The system guards against cyber threats, can block unwanted content, and through sophisticated Artificial Intelligence, can immediately identify and lock down any infected devices to prevent them from infecting the wider home network. The system also provides peace-of-mind by leveraging WiFi-enabled devices to detect motion within the home through the Sense™ service.

“This product has features that many of our customers have been asking for. We are so excited to offer Advanced WiFi powered by Plume HomePass.” stated Lori Saltus, EVP of Citizens Customer Relations and Marketing.

The iconic Plume-designed pods eliminate hard-wired devices throughout the home and the system continually optimizes to adjust to the unique needs of every home and every device to serve the best Internet signal possible. From the HomePass app, the owner can view the ‘health’ of their network, monitor usage, set priorities for devices, and much more. Citizens’ Advanced WiFi is designed to adjust to the activity to deliver in-home
performance beyond the capabilities of standard WiFi systems.

For more information about Citizens' Advanced WiFi, visit citizens.coop/citizens-advanced-wifi, call Citizens at 540.745.2111 or 276.637.6485.

Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Citizens also offers symmetrical business Ethernet, IT Solutions, as well as Citizens Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby hours are 8am-6pm Monday - Friday; 9am - 1pm on Saturday.

About Plume

Plume® is the creator of the world’s first SaaS experience platform for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and their subscribers, enabling the rapid delivery of new services for smart homes, small businesses, and beyond at massive scale. Visit plume.com.

Plume, HomePass, and Signal are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Plume Design, Inc.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative (Citizens) recently announced their plan to migrate away from traditional cable TV service.  Since 2005, Citizens has offered ‘digital’ TV service; a service ran across telephone lines. Today, the Cooperative announced their plan to dissolve the traditional service and offer the newest in television technology -- IPTV.

The company has partnered with Southern Fiber Network to provide SFN TV Now powered by Citizens. The IPTV service is simply watching TV over the Internet. With the continued fiber optic Internet expansion that Citizens plans to complete in 2022, more residents will be able to connect and watch local channels and many of the top networks offered by satellite without paying the exorbitant fees associated with traditional TV packages.

“Many customers will be excited to explore the monetary savings that SFN TV Now powered by Citizens offers.” stated Lori Saltus, EVP of Customer Relations for Citizens. “There are three simple packages to choose from and No Contract is required.”

Citizens will offer a 7-day risk-free trial allowing the customer to simply cancel TV Now within 7 days to avoid being charged for the service.  Consumers can cancel their subscription at any time. The packages are:

Essentials $29.95 -- 40 channels including locals, weather

Premium $79.95 -- 139 channels including locals, weather, and sports

Ultimate $99.95 -- 159 channels including locals, weather, sports, and Starz/Encore, The Movie Channel, and Showtime.

For more information visit: citizens.coop/tvnow/

TV Now gives consumers OPTIONS. SFN TV Now can be viewed on up to five devices -- Smartphones,  tablets, and SmartTVs.  The best thing for Citizens’ customers is that when watching on devices in their home, the data used will NOT count against their Citizens Usage Plan for their fiber service. Consumers with Firesticks and Rokus can expect a superior experience of TV Now powered by Citizens.

For more information, visit www.citizens.coop, call 540.745.2111 or 276.637.6485. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Citizens also offers symmetrical business Ethernet, IT Solutions, as well as Citizens Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby hours are 8am-6pm Monday - Friday; 9am - 1pm on Saturday.

Foundation for Rural Service Scholarships

Each year Foundation for Rural Service Scholarships is awarded by regions across rural America. Citizens would love to see students in our service area receive these scholarships. Scholarships range from $2,500 - $7,000.  The application window is open until March 5, 2021.

Visit https://www.frs.org/programs/youth-programs/scholarships/ for details and application.


VCTA- Broadband Association of Virginia, the Donald A. PerryFoundation and Virginia Cable Industry seek Virginia’s Future Leaders for 2021-2022 Scholarship

On behalf of the Virginia cable industry and the Donald A. Perry Foundation, the VCTA- Broadband Association of Virginia announces the 2021 Virginia’sFuture Leaders Scholarship Program. This year $40,000 will be awarded to outstanding Virginia students attending Virginia colleges and universities across the Commonwealth.

This program is a one-time award and is open to Virginia residents attending an undergraduate 2 or 4 year program at a Virginia institution of higher learning for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Interested applicants should:

  • Visit www.vcta.com for an application & rules. Please follow all instructions carefully.
  • Postmark all entries by March 30, 2021

The Virginia’s Future Leaders Scholarship Program, now in its 21st year, is an educational initiative of the Virginia cable industry.

The VCTA, established in 1966, serves as the trade association for the cable telecommunications industry in Virginia. The VCTA’s mission is to advocate the broadband and telecommunications issues of member companies to the business community and state officials.

2021 Virginias Future Leaders Scholarship Application


Citizens Telephone Cooperative Encourages Students to Apply for James L. Bass Legal Scholarship

The Foundation for Rural Service (FRS) today announced the James L. Bass Legal Scholarship, a new scholarship for students with an interest in rural communities entering their first year of law school. FRS is the philanthropic arm of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, of which Citizens is a member.

With an active law career that spanned more than 70 years, James Bass helped secure funds for rural telephone systems to bring modern telephone service to rural areas. He was pivotal in the creation of NTCA, where he served as one of the organization’s earliest presidents. Bass continued his leadership with service for more than 50 years as legal counsel.

Recognizing Bass’s impact to the industry and his passion for the legal profession, the NTCA Board of Directors established a scholarship for students with an interest in rural communities to attend law school. The first James L. Bass Legal Scholarship will be awarded in spring 2021 and will be at least $5,000.

“Jim was not only a founding member of NTCA, he was a guiding light for our association through much of his lifetime,” said Shirley Bloomfield, chief executive officer of NTCA. “He spent his last years in service to the association as our general counsel where he helped guide our national board through growth and transformation. How fitting it is to honor him with a law school scholarship recognizing not only his passion for rural America but for the legal profession as well. My sincere thanks to all the NTCA members who so generously donated in Jim’s memory.”

“Citizens is pleased to make another scholarship available to graduating seniors,” stated Greg Sapp, CEO & General Manager of Citizens. “We believe in building opportunities for the future and we are honored to offer this scholarship in Jim’s legacy.”

The deadline to be considered for the spring 2021 James L. Bass Scholarship is April 16, 2021.

Visit https://www.frs.org/programs/james-l-bass-legal-scholarship

What better way to celebrate a New Year than by freshening up your company logo?
Citizens Telephone Cooperative is doing just that. Their motto for the logo reveal is “New Year. New Look. Same Dependable People. Same Reliable Service.”

“As the Cooperative continues to offer more fiber dependent technology, we thought it only right to exhibit that in our marketing presence,” stated Lori Saltus, EVP of Citizens’ Customer Relations and Marketing. “We hope our customers will like our new look, holding on to our heritage of the past, operating in the present, and preparing for the future as depicted by the three strands of fiber encircling the globe.  We remain devoted to our residential and business customers both near and far,” commented Greg Sapp, CEO & General Manager.

ctc-21-color-email

For more information, visit www.citizens.coop or call 540.745.2111. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County, portions of Ft. Chiswell, New Castle, and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Citizens offers symmetrical business Ethernet and Hosted Phone Solutions, Security, Automation, and Access Control Systems as well as Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd currently serving customers via drive-thru Monday thru Friday 8 am - 6 pm, and Saturday 9 am - 1 pm; online assistance is available 24/7. DCJS #11-9804

Liz Quesenberry

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is going to my grandma’s on Christmas Eve and then driving back home to my Mom’s in Carroll County, where I spend the night and wake up on Christmas morning with her and my little brother, Eli.

This year, I will spend most of my holiday time with my grandma, who turned 90 this year. She wants to keep everything as normal as possible--which calls for seeing her kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, and now great-great-grandkids!

Liz Quesenberry
Lori Saltus

Lori Saltus

As a child, I loved going Christmas Caroling with my church.

Less family will gather this year, but we still plan to have our traditional game night on Christmas Eve with our children and grandchildren.

Marsha Phillips

I usually make a big Christmas Eve dinner with my dad's side of the family. We cook lots of food and just enjoy our time together.

I will celebrate Christmas Eve at home with my immediate family this year, making holiday goodies.

Marsha HoC
Fox Slife

Fox Slife

My holiday tradition has always been to celebrate Christmas with my family in Wisconsin, but this year I will stay home and celebrate with my mom and brother in Virginia

Tina Osborne

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is gathering with my extended family to pick out the tree. When the whole family is home for Thanksgiving weekend, my dad hooks up his tractor to a hay wagon, and we drive through his land to pick out a Christmas tree. He created this tradition for the grandkids, and what they didn't know then was he would go out earlier the same morning, cut his tree down, and stick the tree in a hole. Then when we were having our hayride, we would magically come across the perfect tree!

All of my family could not come home for Thanksgiving this year, but I still have the memories from all of those fun times!

20201221_095314

Citizens Telephone Cooperative (Citizens) prides itself on being a community partner. Most recently, Citizens adopted 10 senior citizens who are enrolled in the Agency for Aging “Santa to a Senior” program to provide gifts for the holiday season.

Citizens’ Events Coordinator, Tina Osborne, stated “due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gifts will be purchased by one person in the company to avoid possible cross-contamination of any kind.” This is quite different from how Citizens would normally handle this event. “Our employees love to give and normally ‘adopt’ the person and take their wish list to purchase the items as a group or department.” The Citizens’ spirit that is normally exhibited during this time of year was not dampened by fewer people being involved. Instead, the company’s marketing department made a Christmas card showing the individuals of each department within the company for the residents. This is just one way Citizens is adapting to keep the holiday spirit alive during this unusual time.

Citizens was able to supply the items listed for each senior citizen. “It was heartwarming to see the needs of these individuals. There was nothing but pure ‘need’ in their requests...toiletries, clothing, cleaning supplies, and pet food just to name a few.” Citizens even added toilet paper to the package of each person to help during the increased wave of COVID cases in the area. The gifts were nicely wrapped in festive gift wrap and delivered to the residents by the Agency on Aging.

Citizens partnership with the Agency on Aging is a fulfilling effort for both organizations. “To know that you are able to make a senior citizen smile and fulfill a need is worth every moment spent.”

For more information, visit www.citizens.coop or call 540.745.2111. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Citizens also offers symmetrical business Ethernet, IT Solutions, Home Security Systems as well as Citizens Medical Alert. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd.

Drive-thru hours are:
8:00 am - 6:00 pm Monday - Friday
9:00 am - 1:00 pm on Saturday

For information about the Agency on Aging, visit www.nrvaoa.org. The NRV Agency on Aging serves Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, and Pulaski counties and the City of Radford.

For me, Christmas is the time for family. Losing family members makes getting through the holiday season difficult, but being with family members who are still with us is an important tradition that helps me ease the pain of loss. Our extended family has always gotten together on Christmas Day at my home--40 to 50 family members gather, and each family brings their favorite dish. What fun we’ve had over the years, enjoying delicious food together.

Because we have elderly family members and family members with compromised immune systems, we decided not to get together this year. It will be quiet, but I will spend it remembering the wonderful Christmases Past and looking forward to future Christmases.

In my quiet home, there is still one tradition that will remain unchanged this year; I will celebrate the birth of Jesus. Merry Christmas to all, and remember the Reason for the Season. God Bless.

A tradition I started about five years ago was writing Christmas cards. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents as a kid, and they would ask me to check their mailbox for Christmas cards, often multiple times during a visit because the mail hadn't run yet. They would watch the mailbox from the window to get those cards just as soon as the mail person delivered.

They would light up with joy with every single one, especially ones with pictures and hand-written notes. Each year as they got older, the number of cards dwindled because people would post on social media and text Christmas wishes instead, or because more of their friends were passing away. At that point, I realized the importance of my generation carrying on the tradition of sending paper Christmas cards.

I like to buy completely blank cards to write a personal note to each person by hand. I always include a Bible verse from the nativity story that sticks out to me that year. When making my Christmas card list, I try especially hard to include folks from older generations, shut-ins, nursing home residents, and people who have lost loved ones.

This year, my list is much longer because I can’t greet many of my friends and loved ones with a big ol' hug like I normally would. I am incredibly grateful that Christmas cards are a tradition the pandemic cannot take away from me, and if anything, it will make the tradition that much sweeter.

I encourage everyone to write a few cards this year just to let them know how much they mean to you and that you’re thinking of them. We all need a little extra love going around this year!

The 2020 Annual Meeting of Citizens Telephone Cooperative was held on Saturday, October 17th, at Citizens’ office on Webbs Mill Road. Members of the Cooperative were greeted and directed to park by Citizens employees who wore masks and kept a physical distance of 6ft. Members were asked to tune their car radios to 87.9 FM while the Board of Directors and CEO of Citizens conducted the meeting outside of the building.

President Wesley Goff opened the meeting, led the Pledge of Allegiance, and gave the President’s Report.  Secretary Shelby Quesenberry read the minutes from the last meeting. Director Kevin Hubbard presented the re-election of Board members Joseph Italiano (Alum Ridge exchange), Jonathan Vest (Locust Grove exchange), and Shelby Quesenberry (Willis exchange).

CEO and General Manager Greg Sapp reported on the Cooperative’s progress during the COVID-19 pandemic and applauded Citizens employees for their readiness to handle the increase in demand and their willingness to assist customers working and schooling from home. During the pandemic, the company increased installs and performed in record time.

“We installed free WiFi hotspots at Check Elementary, Willis Elementary, and Floyd County High School to assist students, teachers, and staff meet their distance learning and teaching needs. We also put a free hotspot here in our front parking lot to assist our customers. We installed free WiFi hotspots at 3 Wythe County school locations as well,” stated Sapp.  Citizens’ offers a $10 per month Student Connect broadband service to qualifying families with school-age children in the home. To assist qualifying families who may not meet the criteria for the Student Connect program, Citizens offered a 50% discount. Citizens also provided discounts and credits to several local businesses when they were closed or experiencing significant declines in business. “We have worked with many customers during this time to provide options for paying their bills with us. We understand that these are difficult times and that we all must work together,” continued Sapp.

Citizens has taken many precautions during the pandemic to keep members and employees safe. The company closed the lobby to the public on March 24th, and it has been closed ever since. Fortunately, the drive-thru window has allowed for customer service and support needs during this time.

Sapp mentioned measures the company has taken to support the health and safety of Citizens employees, “We have made arrangements for employees to work from home and other off-site locations. The employees working from home rotate with those in the office to provide everyone this option and to prevent all employees from getting sick should we have an outbreak at the office. We have been very fortunate that an outbreak has not happened.”  He explained that all employees who enter the building have their temperatures checked each morning. If employees have to work close to each other, they have to rotate wearing masks. He continued by stating field technicians are taking precautions as well. “The technicians are taking their own temperatures if they are dispatching from home and are using an app to affirm that they do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and are including a picture of their temperature reading. The technicians are wearing masks if they need to enter a customer’s home.” Citizens is also using a questionnaire to screen customers for COVID-19 symptoms before a technician enters the home.

Citizens is taking the pandemic very seriously since telecommunications businesses are considered essential. The company has not been closed a single day and continues to meet the needs of the community during the pandemic.

Sapp also shared the company’s status on the ACAM fiber deployment throughout Floyd County and explained that Citizens obtained partial funding through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), enabling residents in the Copper Hill area to connect to fiber.  In just a few months Citizens has connected 49 out of 316 homes. “This type of grant had to be initiated by a locality, and I would like to give special thanks to Lydeana Martin for taking the lead with this grant,” stated Sapp.

The Cooperative will move into the final construction phase of the fiber project in 2021 and looks to launch a new streaming TV service. The streaming TV service will eliminate the cost of set-top boxes and will give the viewer more flexibility to watch programming on many types of devices including tablets, smartphones, and laptops.

Traditionally, the annual meeting ends with drawing the winners of door prizes and sitting down for a catered meal. To meet recommendations for gatherings during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Citizens opted not to give door prizes or serve a meal.

Sapp mentioned that the Cooperative will continue to hold Annual Meetings at the company’s office located at 220 Webbs Mill Road, Floyd. “We’ve made some enhancements that will allow us to hold the meetings here with ample room to accommodate our members,” stated Sapp.

With no further business, the meeting was adjourned.

For more information about Citizens, visit www.citizens.coop or call 540.745.2111. Citizens is a member-owned Cooperative providing telephone, Internet, and TV to Floyd County and surrounding communities for over 100 years. Citizens also offers symmetrical business Ethernet, IT Solutions, Home Security Systems as well as Citizens Medical Alert and Web Services. Citizens is located at 220 Webbs Mill Road in Floyd. Lobby and drive-up hours are 8 am-6 pm Monday - Friday; 9 am - 1 pm on Saturday. DCJS #11-9804

Message from the General Manager

greg-annual-report-small

The best way to sum up 2020 would be to say it’s been a ‘unique’ year for your Cooperative. Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us our strengths and given us opportunities to do things in different ways. The Board of Directors, Leadership Team, and Employees of the Cooperative have embraced the opportunity to continue to provide you with quality service, excellent support, and advanced technology in more new ways than ever before.

We closed our lobby doors to the public on March 24th but remained steadfast to serve you through our drive-up, by phone, and online. We continued our deployment of 1Gbps Fiber to the Home service. To date, we have entered Phase 4: the Alum Ridge community and the Floyd North area. We are steadily connecting Indian Valley and the Parkway region of the Fairview area. We continue to connect homes in earlier completed areas as well.

Currently, in our ACAM project, we have constructed 257.4 miles of fiber and have over 1,000 customers connected to the Gigabit fiber service. That’s nearly 30% of our Internet customers and much more than we anticipated. In addition, your Cooperative completed a VATI project passing 316 homes in Copper Hill making Gigabit service eligible to those homes as well. To the early adopters in Copper Hill, we say “WELCOME TO GIG COUNTRY!” We hope you are enjoying the 1Gbps speed with generous Usage Plans that are designed to meet the specific needs of your home.

As more areas become Gig-ready, watch for emails and letters from our sales team. You can also stay informed on the progress of the fiber project by viewing the construction Fiber Map on our website citizens.coop/fiberexpansion and following the Fiber Installation Timeline as we get closer to your home citizens.coop/fiber-to-your-home-installation-timeline

Thank you for your support and for being a loyal member. We appreciate the trust that you put in us.

Our Mission is to provide you with Quality Service, Excellent Support, and Advanced Technology. It’s our privilege to provide Technology for Your Community.

Sincerely,
Greg Sapp, CEO & General Manager


Fiber installation

We’re all about connections.
Learn more about the installation of fiber at:
citizens.coop/fiber-to-your-home-installation-timeline

2020 Accomplishments

  • Expand 1Gbps Fiber to the Home Service Phase 4 Fiber Construction
  • Completed VATI project construction deploying 1 Gbps to areas of Copper Hill
  • Continue to Expand CitiZip VDSL Footprint Offering Speeds up to 50Mbps
  • Broadened the footprint of Security, Automation, and Surveillance Solutions for Businesses and Residential Homes
  • Expanded Hosted Phone Solutions for Businesses
  • Ensured Internet service for educational purposes via Student Connect for low-income families during school closure due to COVID-19
  • Gave upgraded speeds without price increases providing work from home solutions during COVID-19 for residents and businesses

2021 Outlook

  • Begin the final phases of construction for 1 Gbps fiber deployment
  • Launch streaming TV service to eliminate the need for set-top boxes for Citizens TV service
  • Increase SIP Trunk offerings for Businesses
  • Integration of new Area Codes

Citizens Telephone Cooperative began hosting an annual Halloween event in 2010. The event has grown from an inside trick-or-treat for customers to an outside Community Event.

“We’ve watched children grow up and have enjoyed seeing their costumes each year. Sadly, due to Covid, the 2020 event will require everyone to remain in their vehicles, but it will still be a fun time for all. Our employees put a lot into this event and have used their creativity to put this drive-thru event together.” said Greg Sapp, GM & CEO of Citizens.

Each year the Cooperative holds a themed event that is frightfully friendly for all ages. Citizens employees were not about to let the COVID-19 pandemic dampen their community spirit. This year’s event will be a Drive-thru Halloween event on Saturday night, October 31st from 7 - 9 pm. Guests will start at the Floyd Rec Park to help avoid congestion along Rt.8. Attendees will be given a FREE ticket to attend the ‘Haunted Circus’ at Citizens, located at 220 Webbs Mill Road, Floyd, VA.

The event’s coordinator, Tina Osborne, explained that once cars are lined up at the Floyd Rec Park, they will be divided into groups and released onto the event route. “Safety is our priority,” stated Osborne. “We want everyone to have a good time and keep safety in mind along the route. We ask that guests remain in their cars at all times as they watch the circus come to life.”

This is not a normal circus as guests will see from the scenes and circus performers. There will be two routes, one for thrill-seekers looking for a fright, and a friendlier one for young children. The children’s area is sponsored by Skyline National Bank, Outer Space, Manifesting Wellness Chiropractic, Safe Surfin’, and ACE (Associated Citizens’ Employees). This area will include a stilt walker, live music by Kari and Michael Kovick, juggling by Geoff Marsh (bookyournextevent.com), hula hooping by Luna (lunaversal.hoopz), and more!

“We appreciate the attendance from our community and are grateful to the volunteers who are joining us to make this the best possible event for a pandemic year. Special thanks go to the Floyd County Fire Department, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office, The June Bug Center, and Citizens’ employees and families who have put in countless hours changing this event from a walking public gathering to a drive-thru event.” stated Greg Sapp.

For more information, please contact Citizens at 745.2111.