James Valley History

Take a closer look at James Valley

The James Valley Cooperative Telephone Company of Groton, South Dakota was incorporated September 8, 1951 and became the successor of the Groton-Ferney Mutual Telephone Company by purchase of the common stock held by Howard B. Fine on December 31, 1951. Telephone service in the area was at that period provided by old magneto 24-hour operator service.

The sleet storm of 1950 destroyed many miles of telephone lines that were never restored. At this time local people, interested in obtaining modern telephone service, realized that if proper equity could be raised, they could secure a Rural Electrification Administration loan to rebuild the old system and make service available to everyone in the entire area. With this in mind, the James Valley Cooperative Telephone Company was formed. In order to qualify for an REA loan, James Valley was required to have title to the physical assets of Groton-Ferney Mutual Telephone Company. A substantial amount of the funds necessary for this purpose was borrowed from Northern Electric Cooperative. Four hundred and sixty shares of Groton-Ferney stock, representing controlling interest of the company were purchased from Howard B. Fine on December 31, 1951. James Valley continued to purchase minority stock until it obtained 93% of the Groton-Ferney stock and dissolved that corporation. Original incorporators were chosen by people in their respective areas and were: Frank Becker, Turton; Norman Berry, Groton; Kenneth Holum, Groton; Lloyd Face, Stratford; J.F. Hopfner, Randolph; Ralph Herseth, Houghton; and J. Al Akerson, Claremont.

From the beginning, the goal of those who organized the Cooperative was to provide the best possible telephone service at the lowest possible cost and at the same time keep the company financially stable.

The membership-at-large elects directors from two or three districts to serve on the Board for a term of three years at the Annual Meeting. The Board of Directors meets monthly.

James Valley took over actual operations in the offices of the Groton-Ferney Mutual Telephone Company in March, 1953. During the 1955 construction, additional offices were established in the Cassels Block and this building also housed materials, supplies and vehicles. The Berry and Werth Building, one block east of Main Street, was purchased in 1958. Remodeling was extensive to provide offices in the front portion of the implement building.

The move was made in early 1959 to the 6,100 square footage building with newly remodeled general offices, vehicle and material storage. Included among these facilities was a community room which was available for public meetings. In 1970 this community room was converted into office area and a conference room. A steel warehouse was added to the building in 1974. During the cable television construction, an equipment room was built in the warehouse area along with the one hundred foot tower and television receiving earth station being placed adjacent to the headquarters office.

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