March 9, 2012

In This Issue

Meetings and Events

MTA Updates

>> Fergus Falls Holds 2nd Annual Telework Summit

>> Reminder: Don't Forget to Register for Lunches at the Convention

>> 2012 Day on the Hill a Huge Success

>> MTA and the Center for Rural Policy and Development Release Report

>> MTA Continues to Meet with Stakeholders on Bill

>> MTA Meets with the Department of Public Safety on its 911 Bill

>> MTA Staff Gearing Up for the 2012 Annual Convention

>> Safety Slogans to Think About

People and Companies

>> Minnesota Department of Commerce: Technical Expert Needed

MTA Staff

MTA President/CEO:
Brent Christensen
Team Leader:

Jacquie Jaskowiak
Meeting Planner:
Julie Cygan
Member Services:
Chris Swanson
Janey Duntley

March 12, 2012: IT Peer Group Meeting

March 25-27, 2012: MTA 2012 Annual Convention

March 29, 2012: Telecom 101 Course

April 11-12, 2012: MTA Plant Manager/ Superintendent Peer Group Meeting

April 26-27, 2012: Customer Service Peer Group Meeting
Registration available next week!

June 11-13, 2012: 2012 MTA Fishing Outing

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Fergus Falls Holds 2nd Annual Telework Summit

In a 2011 survey of 5,000 employers by the McKinsey Global Institute, this question was asked: "How will your company’s workforce change over the next 5 years?” Five hundred — 25 percent — of those respondents said "More telecommuting.”
The growing trend of telecommuting, or telework, will be further explored as the Forward Fergus Falls committee holds its second annual Telework Summit on Wednesday, March 14, at the Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls.

This year’s keynote addresses why rural communities and healthcare providers need to embrace "telehealth” as a new way of doing business. Mary DeVany, Outreach Director for the Great Plains Telehealth Resource & Assistance Center, talks about various telehealth initiatives in the Midwest, why it plays a critical role in maintaining a community’s vitality and what tools are available for communities to tap into this trend.
Of particular interest will be a panel of employers who are in various stages of providing telework opportunities to their employees. Representatives from UnitedHealth Group, Central Harvest States, Discovery Benefits and Kelly Services will be presenting.
Two sessions will focus on tactics employees to find telework positions or for businesses to find people to work from home. The founder of is scheduled to speak via SKYPE while the State of Minnesota will have speakers from its website, rehab services and veterans employment.
Other topics include social media, cloud computing, experiences from real teleworkers and an overview of ongoing Fergus Falls telework efforts including the Fergus Falls Telework Facebook page.
The day’s event will conclude with the Grand Opening of the Fergus Falls Telework Hotel, another reason Fergus Falls calls itself the "Telework Capital of Minnesota.”
Registration for the Telework Summit is $20 in advance or $25 at the door, which includes lunch. For more details or to register, contact Mary Robertson at 218-332-5458.

Reminder: Don't Forget to Register for Lunches at the Convention

In addition to the informative breakout sessions packed into this year's convention, the event offers two opportunities to hear from national experts with the most up-to-date information on our industry. The Monday "Issues Luncheon” will feature former US Senator Byron Dorgan. Senator Dorgan has been working hard in DC with the Rural Coalition, advocating on behalf of rural telcos. With more than 30 years of service in Congress, Senator Dorgan has a unique perspective that has been a strong voice for rural America.
Tuesday’s Keynote luncheon will feature NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield. Her talk, "Rural Telecom: Creating the Future,” will be an interactive opportunity for MTA members to learn about not only the Rural Coalition's efforts at the FCC and Congress, but also about the conversations with OPASTCO on "Unification” opportunities.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign up for the luncheons. Tickets are only $40 each and members can register on the MTA website. For more information, please contact either Jacquie Jaskowiak at, 651-288-3724 or Brent Christensen at, 651-288-3723.


A limited amount of exhibit booths are still available. Sign up to Exhibit or Sponsor


2012 Day on the Hill a Huge Success

Despite the bad weather up North and the threat of bad weather in the Cities, the 2012 MTA Day on the Hill went off without a hitch. The event started off Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 28, with an issues briefing. In addition to learning about the State/Federal Alignment Bill, attendees had the opportunity to learn from the experts about the recently released redistricting maps and how they would affect their legislators. Rob Hammond briefed attendees on the Education Tax Credit bill and Telework Tax Credit bill, which are still alive from last session. There was even a short tutorial on how to lobby for first time attendees, which also served as a refresher for veteran attendees. "I want to thank all of our members who attended this year’s Day on the Hill for making it such a success,” commented MTA President Brent Christensen, "the visits by members on Wednesday resulted in 18 additional co-authors on our bill in the House and 7 more in the Senate.  That would not have happened without the hard work of our members.”

MTA and the Center for Rural Policy and Development Release Report

At Day on the Hill last week, the MTA and the Center for Rural Policy and Development released a report entitled:  Economic Contribution of Telecommunications Companies Servicing Greater Minnesota. The report focuses on the direct and indirect effects MTA member Telcos have on the State’s economy. While this first report only focused on the financial contributions of telcos, future reports will be expanded to include Associate members and their effect on our economy. Brad Finstad from the Center for Rural Policy and Development went over the report with attendees at Day on the Hill and copies were provided to legislators during the visits on Wednesday. The report was written by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Community Vitality and can be viewed by clicking here.

MTA Continues to Meet with Stakeholders on Bill

MTA staff continues to meet with interested stakeholders on the State/Federal Alignment Bill. Over the past several weeks MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen, MTA/MIC Chief Lobbyist Mike Ahern and others have met with interested parties gathering input on refining SF 2080/HF 2475. To date, the group has met with CLEC representatives, wireless/IXC interests, the MN Cable Communications Association, the Department of Commerce, the Public Utilities Commission, and others. The meetings have been very productive and the MTA Legislative Committee’s SFAB Subcommittee is working to address the concerns raised during the meetings. Additional meetings are being set up with other interested parties. "Our goal is to see that we reach out to everyone who has a vested interest in this bill to make sure it is as beneficial as possible to consumers in Minnesota and in line with the spirit and intent of the FCC’s Order on USF/ICC,” commented MTA President/CEO Brent Christensen, "the meetings have been very productive and we have received a lot of good feedback and suggestions for improving the bill.” MTA/MIC Chief Lobbyist Mike Ahern added, "This is clearly a work in progress and we are working hard to make sure everyone has a voice in this process.”

MTA Meets with the Department of Public Safety on its 911 Bill

MTA Staff and members met with representatives of the MN Department of Public Safety on March 9 to discuss SF 2111/HF 2585, a complete re-write of the State’s 911 law. DPS staff stated that the bill was intended to prepare Minnesota for the next generation of 911. The MTA cautioned staff that the bill needs more input from the industry and to be narrowed in focus. The MTA opposes moving this bill forward this year in its current form.

MTA Staff Gearing Up for the 2012 Annual Convention

With just over two weeks before the 2012 Annual MTA Convention, the MTA staff is moving forward at full steam. There are only a few booths left in the trade show, so there is still time to exhibit in one of the largest telecom trade shows in the Country. New this year, we are expanding the trade show theme throughout the convention. "Explore Minnesota” will focus on the great work Minnesota Telcos are doing to provide Broadband to our great state and our efforts to promote adoption. A special thanks to MTA Event Planning Committee Chairman George Fish and the entire Committee for all of their hard work in putting together this premier industry showcase.

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Safety Slogans to Think About

While looking at the safety journals, email articles and newsletters that come in each month, I noticed that many have safety slogans to make their readers think about safety. Sometimes the slogans are humorous, sometimes serious, and some I just don’t know how to describe. I have listed some below:

  • It’s easier to ask a dumb question than it is to fix a dumb mistake.
  • Your reward for working safely today, is tomorrow.
  • Those precious fingers don’t ignore. . . Or they could end up on the floor.
  • A spill, a slip, a hospital trip.
  •  When you gamble with safety, you bet your life.
  • Safety – A small investment for a rich future.
  • Seat Belts are for kids – Hug them at home – Belt them in the car.
  • Safety doesn’t happen by accident.
  • While on a ladder, never step back to admire your work.
  • Safety is as simple as ABC…Always Be Careful.
  • Keep safety in mind. It will save your behind.
  • If you don’t think it will happen to you, find the person who had it happen to them.
  • Shortcuts cut life short.
  • Safety is a mission, not an intermission.
  • The door to Safety swings on the hinges of common sense.
  • Safety isn’t expensive; it’s priceless.
  • Do the do’s not the don’ts.
  • Stop! Think! Then Act!
  • Be the kind of person your dog thinks you are.
  • Hearing protection is a sound investment.
  • Safety first, to last.
  • Caution: Read, then proceed.

And one that still has me thinking:

  • If everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane.

I hope you smiled to yourself at least once while reading through the slogans, and I’m sure you shook your head at least a couple of times.

Remember to set your clocks ahead this weekend for daylight saving time. You don’t want to be like I was a couple years ago (going into church just as everyone else is leaving). The Pastor still talks about that.

We wish to thank all of you for your support of the MTA Safety Program. If we can be of any assistance to you please let us know; we’d be more than happy to help you out.

Take care,
Dan Be
rg, M.S.
Lead Safety Consultant

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Minnesota Department of Commerce: Technical Expert Needed

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is seeking an individual for a position as a technical expert in telephone rate and service regulation. The individual provides leadwork direction for all junior-level staff, and directs and conducts investigations of rate, cost and service matters involving telecommunications providers. The individual may receive direction from more senior staff as necessary. The individual is responsible for evaluating moderate to complex rate petitions, tariff filings, and service proposals for all regulated telecommunications providers. The work consists of evaluating and proposing alternatives to utility company proposals. The individual is responsible for evaluating regulatory matters, determining questions needing resolution, developing a staff position, testifying in public hearings, responding to cross-examination from interested parties, and assisting legal counsel in the preparation of legal briefs. The individual may conduct or direct specific issue research, testify before the legislature, identify the need for new rules and regulations, manage contracts with non-department consultants and other related work as required by the Regulatory Unit Manager.

NOTE: Depending on the qualifications of the applicants, this position may be a Public Utilities Rates Analyst 2, 3, or 4. While the position is listed for each category, there is only one position available at this time.

Do you have an announcement for People & Companies? Send an e-mail to MTA at or fax to 651-290-2266.

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Minnesota Telecom Alliance
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