TriCounty is committed to bringing the best technology and service to our community. After all, we are the ONLY provider with its Home Office right here in your area. With local service, local employees, a local Board of Directors, and money spent locally, nobody is more local than us.
Whether it's connections, entertainment or savings you want, we have something for everyone—and we’re right here.
Rural living has its advantages; but attracting a telephone company wasn't one of them for some parts of Beaufort, Hyde and Washington Counties even 75 years after the telephone industry began.
The unserved areas were scattered and sparsely populated and, therefore, considered undesirable by existing telephone companies. However, there was a job to be done and community leaders investigated all avenues in efforts to obtain telephone service.
The original organizational committee to obtain telephone service for the area now generally served by Tri-County Telephone Membership Corporation was established on March 13, 1950, and included:
As a final resort, a group of rural people incorporated Tri-County Telephone Membership Corporation on December 11, 1952.
Low interest loan funds were obtained from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These funds, along with the voluntary efforts of many local people and assistance from the North Carolina Rural Electrification Authority, resulted in telephone service being initiated for 197 subscribers on May 17, 1955.
More than 500 people packed the auditorium at the Pinetown School to celebrate the event with TriCounty President T. Ralph Tyer, Jr. serving as moderator. John A. Winfield, director of the Division of Markets for the N.C. Department of Agriculture made a long distance call at the meeting to Senator W. Kerr Scott in Washington, D.C. to mark the occasion. Many other dignitaries also participated.
The cooperative grew slowly, but steadily.
From the beginning until 1971, TriCounty was operated under a management contract with Woodstock Electric Membership Corporation (later changed to Tideland Electric Membership Corporation), and its offices were located in Woodstock's office building. From November 1971 through April 1972, TriCounty operated under a management contract with Star Telephone Membership Corporation. Then, on May 1, 1972, TriCounty became completely independent. Approximately one year later, TriCounty moved into its own new office building where it is presently located on Highway 99 South, approximately 2 miles from Belhaven. TriCounty was always an entirely separate corporation with its own board of directors.
TriCounty managers through the years include:
Many other people, too numerous to mention, played important roles in the history of TriCounty. We should mention, however, three former directors: Sam R. Respess, Hassel Ray Osborne, and Carmer H. Wallace, who each served for nearly 20 years.
In 1992, Tri-County Television Membership Corporation was established to run and oversee the development of its newest community venture, television. Tri-County Television brought television to the door steps of many of the same customers it had been serving for years. The television company was established as a cooperative just as the telephone company and maintained that status until 1996, then becoming Tri-County Communications, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary company of Tri-County Telephone Membership Corporation. At the Annual Meeting of Members held May 7, 2005, in conjunction with the cooperative’s 50th Anniversary, a new name, TriCounty Telecom , was introduced. The name reflects a growing business that continues to adapt to rapidly changing technology and seeks to seamlessly serve its customers.
In an effort to continue providing its customers with the latest in telecommunications technology, Tri-County Communications began offering paging services in 1995 with coverage areas ranging from Raleigh east to nationwide. Then in December 1997, local Internet access was offered to residents of the three county areas.
As technologies continue to change and develop, TriCounty Telecom will continue to offer its customers the latest in telecommunications services.
began his career at TriCounty Broadband as the Information Systems Coordinator in 1997. Prior to being named General Manager/CEO in January 2011, he held positions of Customer Service Supervisor, Customer Service Manager and Operations Manager, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company. Through a merger with Wilkes Communications and RiverStreet Networks, occurring later this year, Coltrain has already assumed a new position within the organization as Executive Vice President of Business Development.
Coltrain holds a Pre-Liberal Arts degree in Business from Beaufort County Community College. He has continued his education in telecommunications technologies through various continuing education opportunities, seminars and workshops. In 2010, he led TriCounty through the largest project it had ever seen, a Fiber to the Home expansion. This 16 million dollar project allowed TriCounty to build a 355 mile state-of-the-art fiber network passing 100% of TriCounty’s served members’ homes or businesses and several contiguous communities. He currently serves as Executive Director of the TriCounty Foundation, serves on the Beaufort County Community College Foundation Board, the board of the Carolina Virginias Telephone Membership Association and the North Carolina Access-On Board and served on the North Carolina Coalition of Telephone Cooperatives.
With over 22 years in the telecom and broadband industry, Coltrain continues to encourage the development of broadband networks and advanced technologies in our rural areas of North Carolina. He and his wife Tiffany and their children live outside of Belhaven on the Inner Banks of North Carolina.
The TriCounty Telephone Foundation was established in 1991 with an endowment from Tri-County Telephone Membership Corporation. The purpose of the Foundation is "To provide funding for projects that foster educational, medical and recreational opportunities or promote activities that enhance economic conditions for families and communities served by TriCounty Telecom."
Each year at the Tri-County Telephone Membership Corporation Annual Meeting of Members, two scholarships, valued up to $4,000 each, are awarded to students of member families. The Foundation also contributes two scholarships to the Beaufort County Community College Foundation to assist TriCounty members who are returning to school. In addition to educational scholarships, the Foundation funds many local youths as they participate in state and national leadership conferences.
Local Fire and Rescue Departments have received funds to assist in building and equipment purchases since the Foundation’s inception. Hospitals within our three county footprint have been benefactors as well. TriCounty is always there to help local schools with various projects as well as supporting local recreational departments and other service organizations devoted to nurturing our youth.
Economic development is the key to any successful community, and TriCounty is a dedicated friend to local Chambers of Commerce and organizations that foster growth and opportunity in our surrounding areas. They know they can call on us to offer assistance when they are in need. Money isn’t always the immediate need. Sometimes they just need a little manpower, so we try to fill that need by being open to employees working to fill the gap.
We believe the Foundation has made a difference in the quality of life for many people and communities in the Beaufort, Hyde and Washington County area.