Jill Fishbaugher settles into new role at Spring Grove Communications New General Manager/CEO looks forward to helping community, company

By : 
Jordan Gerard

Spring Grove Communications has a new General Manager/CEO, and she’s excited to get started working with the company as a whole and community.

Jill Fishbaugher of Harmony applied for the job after working with the staff for the last 10 years on their accounting. She has also worked for Harmony Telephone Company, of which Spring Grove Communications is a 50 percent owner. 

“They are a great group of people to work with,” she said. “The work they’re doing in broadband and technology is great. I wanted to be more of an integral part of the company.”

In her new role, she will assist the board of directors with strategic planning and carrying out their plan through daily operations.

“I think the focus of Spring Grove Communications is moving forward as a premier technology company,” she added. “I want to help the board and employees develop plans to bring that plan to fruition.”

As someone who understands the industry and the regulatory side of it, Fishbaugher will help navigate the board of directors through their strategic plans and help understand how regulations affect it.

She also wants to help the staff achieve the goal and ambitions as well. So far, she’s enjoyed getting to know them further.

“It’s the opportunity to work in a company that has deployed fiber optics in the home and works with the community,” Fishbaugher said.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and four-legged family members.

As for Spring Grove Communications and their future plans, they recently announced plans to create MiBroadband with Mabel Cooperative Telephone Company, themselves and Harmony Telephone Company and MiEnergy Cooperative, which will bring high-speed internet to rural areas.

Fishbaugher said “rural is defined by having less than three or four subscribers per mile of fiber. Low density makes it more difficult to install the underground fiber optic lines to provide broadband service to these rural areas” at the announcement event on July 24.

Previously, Spring Grove Communications revamped their broadband offerings to members on July 1.

“We realize that in today’s technology world, upload speeds are as important as download speeds,” Fishbaugher said. “Utilizing fiber in the home has allowed Spring Grove Communications to stay current with the needs of its members.”

She added this was good news for Spring Grove and the area, as many rural areas can’t provide that service to its customers. It will also impact the overall economic status for small communities to have robust broadband offerings.

Customers can contact the company to see what new packages are available and which would best serve their needs, be it a business or home.

Fishbaugher said she’s excited to join the team at Spring Grove Communications and looks forward to working with everyone.

“I am really excited to be part of a great team of employees focused on excellent customer service,” she said. 

She joins Dave Morken, Mark Dokken, Bruce Hegge, Alan Frydenlund, Jana Crickman, Fordyce Brevig and Len Myrah on the board.

No update on former GM/CEO

Fishbaugher could not comment on the status of former Spring Grove Communications General Manager/CEO Craig Otterness, who was unexpectedly escorted out from his office in October 2017.

At the annual meeting in March 2018 in his president’s report, Dave Morken said, “I feel I need to inform you that no employee can comment on employee matters. As of Oct. 19, 2017, Craig Otterness is no longer with us. We anticipate hiring someone to fill the position in 2018.”

Not a peep was made from any member and the meeting marched on. Otterness worked for the company for 40 years.