MTA News Bytes

September 29, 2017

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

From the President

>> MTA Staff Changes

Action Items

>> 2017 MTA Fall Conference Is Next Week!

>> 2018 MTA Annual Convention Call for Proposals

Informational items

>> Reply Comments Filed on Rural Call Completion Second FNPRM

>> Minnesota Public Utiities Commission Issues New TAP/Lifeline Application

Peer Group Bulletin

>> Don't Miss These 2017 MTA Peer Group Investment Opportunities!

>> Upcoming Peer Group Events

Safety Corner

>> Fall Prevention

People and Companies

>>Neutral Path Communications Acquires Infinity Fiber

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent J. Christensen
Event Planners:
Julie Cygan Diamond
Ashley Crunstedt
Carissa Wolf
Member Services:
Jeanne DeMartino

Anna Wrisky
Administrative Assistant:
Anne Christensen

Stay up-to-date on daily happenings at the MTA offices by following us on Facebook. From peer group meetings to annual conferences and everything in between, get the scoop on what’s happening at our offices!




Meetings and Events

October 3-4, 2017: Customer Service Group Fall Conference
The Inn on Lake Superior, Duluth

October 5-6, 2017: MTA Fall Conference
Minneapolis Marriott Northwest

November 20, 2017: Administrative Assistant Peer Group Fall Conference
AmericInn Lodge & Suites, Wahpeton, ND

December 6-7, 2017: Plant Manager & Superintendent Peer Group Meeting
Holiday Inn & Suites, St. Cloud

March 26-28, 2018: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

March 18-20, 2019: MTA Annual Convention & Trade Show
Hyatt Regency Minneapolis

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MTA Updates


MTA Staff Changes

We have some staff changes at MTA. Wednesday was Jacquie Durant’s last day. She has been with us since we moved to Ewald Consulting in 2009. She started out in the Event Planning department and moved up to be my Vice President. In addition to managing our team, Jacquie was responsible for the membership directory, taking care of Board meetings, PAC logistics, Associate Member renewal, and the Annual meeting. You never saw her on stage, but she was always there making sure it went off without a hitch. Jacquie has taken a position running the Minnesota Dental Association’s Foundation. I am very happy for her, but sad for us. Staff changes are inevitable and you want good people to advance, but her absence will be felt for a long time to come. No decision has been made on Jacquie’s replacement. In the interim, Anne Christensen is taking over Jacquie’s responsibilities. She can be reached at or 651-288-3723.

In addition, our lead Event Planner, Julie Cygan Diamond, will be leaving the first week of December. Anyone who has had the opportunity to work with Julie knows that she is an amazing leader and meeting planner with outstanding communication and negotiating skills who is always thinking of MTA members and how to optimize our events. MTA has had the good fortune to work with Julie since 2009 and she will definitely be missed. Julie recently got married and just sent her eldest daughter to college; she still has a 15-year-old daughter at home, so she has had some exciting changes in her personal life that have made her ready to embrace the next phase of her life.

MTA is very fortunate to have had Carissa Wolf working on MTA’s events for almost 7 years and she will continue the great work that Julie has done to ensure that MTA has successful events. We will also bring another experienced event planner to support MTA. Ashley Crunstedt has been a Senior Meeting Planner with Ewald for 11 years and will bring her energy and ideas to MTA starting right away so that we have plenty of transition time while Julie is still here.

I wish Jacquie, Julie and their families all the best as they embark on new adventures! I am grateful for all they have done for MTA and I am sure I speak for all of you in saying that we will miss both of them. Please let me know if you have any questions.

MTA President/CEO
Brent J. Christensen

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The 2017 MTA Fall Conference Is Next Week!
There Is Still Time to Register.

2017 MTA Fall Conference

October 5-6, 2017 | Minneapolis Marriott Northwest, Brooklyn Park, MN

>> View Details and Register Online

Have you signed up? MTA members will come to Minneapolis from all over the state to learn more about the important issues facing our industry. Don't miss out!

>> View sponsor or exhibit details for the 2017 MTA Fall Conference.

2018 MTA Annual Convention Call for Proposals
Deadline for submission: October 13, 2017

2018 MTA Convention Call for Proposals

We are now planning for the Annual Convention and Trade Show, March 26-28, 2018, at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis. Our convention offers you an opportunity to talk with the (estimated 1,100) MTA attendees face-to-face.

Request for Proposals

There are additional opportunities for you to demonstrate your knowledge and expertise to all attendees. We are requesting submissions of speakers and presenters for our breakout sessions and luncheons.

Breakout Session Requirements

The 2018 MTA Convention will have 14 breakout sessions of 50 minutes each and an Issues Update Luncheon. Sessions will be presented on Monday, March 26 and Tuesday, March 27, 2018. No sales pitches, please.

>> Submit a Proposal

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Reply Comments Filed on Rural Call Completion Second FNPRM

From NECA’s Washington Watch

Reply comments were filed on September 25, 2017, on the Second FNPRM on rural call completion. NTCA and WTA reiterated their position that the record keeping and reporting requirements should be retained at least until an effective alternative rural call completion solution, such as mandated compliance with current best practices and accompanying certifications, can be adopted and implemented. They said rural providers’ primary concern is that rescinding the record keeping and reporting requirements before a realistic, effective substitute is identified will also mean rescinding the progress that has been made on rural call completion. Sprint asserted the comments confirmed: the existing rural call completion data collection, reporting and retention rules are ineffective and should be eliminated; that any rural call completion problems have abated sharply; and that intercarrier compensation reform, competitive market forces and cooperative industry efforts are the most effective means to address any ongoing rural call completion issues. It said new regulations or mandated performance standards are unwarranted and unnecessary. The Minnesota Telecom Alliance supported maintaining the rural call completion reporting requirements in their current form until the Commission adopts other provisions that provide: quality of service standards for individual intermediate carriers; safe harbor or comparable incentives (or express obligations) for covered carriers to limit the number of intermediate carriers involved in the transmission of any individual call; and transparency to RLECs and rural customers. MTA said these reporting requirements and incentives or express obligations should be applicable to all rural areas, including areas served by both RLECs and rural CLECs. Notice

Reply comments also filed by:

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Issues New TAP/Lifeline Application

On September 18, the Commission posted a newly revised application form for both Minnesota’s Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP) and the Federal Lifeline Program. This new application incorporates changes to help applicants accurately and completely apply for TAP and Lifeline programs. Companies that provide TAP & Lifeline services that are currently using a customized company specific application will be allowed to continue to use their own application as long as it contains all of the information in this new application released by the Commission. “Providers should feel free to take our form and put their logo on it, and are always welcome to call us if they have questions about the application,” commented Michelle Rebholz, Economic Analysis Supervisor at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. CLICK HERE for the Commission notice and link to application.

Staff from the MNPUC recently attended MTA’s Regulatory Committee meeting to review the application and walk through their new program website. The staff at the Commission are working on the Frequently Asked Questions portion of the website and are asking MTA members for assistance. If your company has received questions from either staff or customers, please collect that information and get it to MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen. Commission staff are also working to host a webinar on this topic for providers and will have more information as that develops. This webinar will be recorded for future reference.

“I would like to commend the Commission staff for all of their hard work on this process,” stated Christensen. “The MTA has been involved in streamlining the verification process for a very long time and we share the Commission’s goal of making sure every Minnesotan who is eligible for this program takes advantage of it.”

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Peer Group Bulletin
All MTA members are welcome to join a Peer Group

Don't Miss These 2017 MTA Peer Group Investment Opportunities!

MTA’s core purpose is to enhance the success and viability of its telecommunications industry members. You are an important part of helping us fulfill this mission. Here is your opportunity to maximize the impact of your event sponsorships for 2017. Stay tuned for 2018 opportunities, available soon.

Download the 2017 Peer Group Investment Opportunities for full details

Sponsor a Peer Group: Sign Up Online!

Upcoming Peer Group Events

2017 CSR Fall Conference

Tuesday, October 3-4, 2017 | The Inn on Lake Superior, Duluth, MN 55802
MTA is excited to present the upcoming Customer Service Peer Group Conference, coming up October 3-4 at The Inn on Lake Superior in Duluth, MN. This event is for any and all individuals who deal with customer in the telecommunications industry. This is a great opportunity to attend (or send your staff) for very little cost. 

Rates: Members - $125, Nonmembers - $150

>> Full Details and Registration

Administrative Assistant Peer Group 2017 Fall Conference

November 20, 2017 | AmericInn Lodge & Suites, Wahpeton, North Dakota

Rates: $99 per person

AmericInn Lodge & Suites
2029 210 Drive | Wahpeton, North Dakota  58075
Call 701-642-8365; ask for Allison. Room block name: MN Administrative Assistants Peer Group

>> Full Details and Registration

Plant Manager & Superintendent Peer Group Meeting

December 6-7, 2017 | Holiday Inn & Suites, St. Cloud, Minnesota 

Rates: $150 members or nonmembers

Holiday Inn & Suites
75 S 37th Ave. | St. Cloud, Minnesota  5630

Room block ends November 24, 2017 — call 1-800-315-2621 to make reservations.

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Safety Corner

Fall Prevention

During safety training this Fall we have been discussing Slip, Trips, and Falls and how to prevent work related injuries. Along with that September 22-28, 2017 is Falls Prevention Awareness Week. However, it is not intended for workplace awareness.

Elderly Fall

The goal of Falls Prevention Awareness Week each year is to raise awareness among older Americans, their families, caregivers, and the public, regarding the seriousness of falls and ways to reduce fall risk with the elderly. Falls are the leading cause of injury-related emergency department visits for older adults, the major cause of hip fractures, and responsible for more than half of fatal head injuries. Each year millions of older people – those 65 and older – fall. In fact, 1 out of 3 older people falls each year, but less than half tell their doctor. Additionally, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries, and more than 700,000 patients are hospitalized per year due to a head injury or hip fracture. The direct medical costs of these injuries are astronomical. Falls can take a serious toll on older adults’ quality of life and independence. 

Many falls do not cause injuries. But 1 out of 5 falls does cause a serious injury such as a broken bone or a head injury.  These injuries can make it hard for a person to get around, do everyday activities, or live on their own.

  • Falls can cause broken bones, such as wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
  • Falls can cause head injuries. These can be very serious, especially if the person is taking certain medicines (like blood thinners). An older person who falls and hits their head should see their doctor right away to ensure they don’t have a brain injury.
  • Many people who fall, even if they are not injured, become afraid of falling. This fear may cause a person to cut down on their everyday activities. When a person is less active, they become weaker and this increases their chances of falling.

As with falls in the workplace, falls at home are preventable and you can use the same tips we talk about in safety training to help reduce injuries for our older family members. Here are a few suggestions for home safety:

  • Be aware of uneven surfaces. Look out for floor changes such as doorways, or in between carpeting and bare floors. Use rug grippers under throw rugs. In the kitchen, be sure to keep often used items in easy reach.
  • Light the way. Use nightlights in dimmer areas. Make sure there are light switches at both ends of hallways and stairways. Lighted switches make them easier to find.
  • Keep pathways clear. By removing obstacles such as shoes, papers, stacks of belongings, toys, etc. Make sure pathways are wide enough to maneuver through them.
  • Stay safe on stairs. Be sure stairways are free of obstacles. Install hand rails on both sides of the stairway if possible.
  • Hand supports in the bathroom. Shower and near toilet grips are excellent, as well as a non-skid surface in tub with a shower chair.
  • Keep frequently used items nearby. Bending and reaching frequently lead to falls.

Other risk factors to consider include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear

Step up to Stop Falls

Do whatever you can to reduce the risk of elderly falls in your home or theirs. Taking simple measures and creating a fall-prevention, user-friendly home we can help create a better quality of life.


Congratulations to Chris Swanson who last week completed the requirements to earn her Advanced Safety Certificate from the National Safety Council. The courses she attended are designed to give you better understanding of the fundamentals of workplace safety and health and focused on best practices for implementing and managing a safety program.  The Advanced Safety Certificate is a nationally recognized professional achievement and she will be recognized by the Minnesota Safety Council during their spring conference in May 2018.  Congratulations Chris!

Jeff Ulmen
Senior Safety Consultant

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People Companies

Neutral Path Communications Acquires Infinity Fiber;
Extends Reach to Chicago, South Bend, Indianapolis and Beyond

Mankato, Minn.September 25, 2017 – Neutral Path Communications, the Midwest’s premier provider of fiber optic transport facilities, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Infinity Fiber, LLC. The Infinity highly-coveted fiber network runs from Indianapolis to South Bend before it jogs west to Chicago. In South Bend, the network provides connectivity through Global Access Point’s Union Station Technology Center, which offers access to world-class tenants. The Union Station outstanding operational team, unique service stack and location, next to a large fiber-optic corridor along the railroad, has helped it grow to one of the largest in the region and become a top 40 carrier hotel nationally.

>> View the map.

This expansion to the east enables Neutral Path to extend the reach of its carrier neutral, highly efficient network from Denver to Omaha to Minneapolis and now Chicago, South Bend and Indianapolis, including several key markets along the route. The Infinity acquisition continues the rapid expansion of Neutral Path which recently extended its main line from the NDC data center at 1623 Farnam in Omaha, south to the Netrality Properties’ 1102 Grand facility in Kansas City, and from the 511 11th Ave building in Minneapolis to 350 Cermak in Chicago.

“We are thrilled by the Infinity transaction and are eager to offer our unique transport benefits to our current customers and the customers in these growing markets,” remarked Neutral Path’s Director of Corporate Development, Chris Jensen.

“This transaction means additional connectivity opportunities for Neutral Path customers seeking to expand their business operations in the growing Chicago, South Bend and Indianapolis markets, while extending the network reach we can deliver to our data center customers. We are looking forward to a strong partnership with the Neutral Path team,” commented Kevin Smith, Owner of Global Access Point and its Union Station Data center.

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