The Fight to Offer Telephone Begins
October 1950 – A group of representatives from Grant, Hamilton, Haskell, Morton and Stevens Counties meet in Ulysses to evaluate the formation of a telephone cooperative. Pioneer Telephone Association, Inc. begins.
Pioneer begins purchase discussions with the Border Telephone Company, located in Hamilton and Stanton counties and in the communities of Coolidge, Johnson, Manter and Syracuse; the Moscow, Richfield and Rolla exchanges; and the F&M Telephone Company, which served Ulysses and Grant County. All purchases would be contingent upon obtaining Kansas Corporation Commission approval and procuring an REA loan.
March 1951 – First staff is hired. W.C. Rhodes, manager of the Pioneer Cooperative Association, the local electric cooperative, was appointed as manager of Pioneer Telephone, to serve with no pay; Frank Horton and Company of Lamar, Missouri, was appointed Association engineer; and Ralph Winsted was hired as assistant manager by the electric cooperative, with duties that included monitoring the affairs of Pioneer Telephone.
October 1951 — Hearing before the Kansas Corporation Commission on Pioneer’s application for authority to establish a rural telephone cooperative. Among the witnesses testifying in favor of Pioneer’s application were 13 area farmers. Those opposed included city officials from Syracuse and Ulysses. The primary objections were financial. The hearing was recessed indefinitely pending the submission of a report by an independent engineering firm commissioned by the KCC.
February 1952 — By the re-convened Kansas Corporation Commission hearing, 99 business people and farmers had pledged more than $72,000 in equity required for the acquisition of an REA loan.
June 1952 — The Kansas Corporation Commission denied Pioneer’s application for a certificate of convenience and necessity to operate as a telephone utility.
December 1953 — Joseph B. Chilen, former Grant County Extension Agent, was named Pioneer’s Manager, and a 19-person Citizens Telephone Study Committee was formed in Ulysses to investigate the possibility of obtaining adequate rural telephone service in Grant County.
January 1953 — At a town meeting in Ulysses, by majority vote, the citizens of Ulysses endorsed the concept of the Pioneer Telephone Association attempting to purchase the local telephone system and converting it to dial.
October 1953 — After a three-year struggle, the Kansas Corporation Commission relented and Pioneer became an operating telephone company. By mid-year of 1954, construction on the new dial system had begun.
November 1955 — Pioneer purchased the Johnson, Manter, and Satanta exchanges, pending Kans as Corporation Commission approval. The Ryus exchange was created from parts of the Ulysses and Satanta exchanges. Plans were also made to serve some Baca County, Colorado, residents from the Manter exchange and to provide service for the newly created Big Bow exchange.
October 1959 — Purchase of the Syracuse exchange, from the Border Telephone Company was approved by the Kansas Corporation Commission. The Coolidge exchange was formed from the western portion of the Syracuse exchange.