S&T Telephone Coop Association is the product of the vision of a group of farmers who were interested in a better communication system for rural people. After five years of planning, the first formal organizational meeting of applicants for membership in S&T Telephone Cooperative Association was called to order on August 9, 1951 by acting chairman, Mr. Carl Denton from Kanorado. Four hundred thirty-seven signed membership applicants had been collected from rural area residents through a membership drive. The following individuals were elected to serve on the first board of directors:
The “S&T” in the cooperative name were initials representing Sherman and Thomas Counties. The company originally provided service to Brewster, Levant and Kanorado, Kansas. Through the years, the Grinnell, Winona, Menlo, Healy, Russell Springs and Dighton exchanges were purchased and added to the cooperative membership.
The first business office for S&T was established in Brewster KS. It was moved and remodeled a few times over the years as the company grew. The first branch office of S&T was opened in Dighton in 1996 when S&T purchased the Dighton telephone exchange from United Telephone. A new Dighton office building was built in 2003.
Providing modern telephone service to rural northwest Kansas was the driving force of those who worked so hard at making the telephone cooperative a reality. However, in the early 1990’s the S&T Board of Directors discovered that many of the S&T members were being poorly served by their cable TV providers. The Cable TV systems in Kanorado, Winona, Grinnell and Healy were purchased in 1995, with service to Dighton following later. This was the first big step towards offering non-regulated services.
For years, many Colby and Goodland residents and businesses had requested that S&T provide services in their areas due to poor service from their provider. After performing a feasibility study in these areas, the board of directors made the decision to proceed with becoming a facility based CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) in Goodland and Colby simultaneously. This project required double the workforce, creating thirty-one additional jobs in the first two years, and was completed in 2003.
Other important highlights of S&T
- June 10, 1952 S&T Telephone – Incorporated
- 1957 – Dial telephones introduced to customers
- 1962 – Installation of Mobile Dial Service
- 1972 – Began laying buried telephone cable
- Oct. 1972 – Open house for new S&T general office in Brewster
- 1973 – Conversion to direct dialing eliminating local operators
- 1985 – First Digital Central Office Switch installed in Brewster, first 911 service to Thomas County subscribers
- 1985 - Fiber optic cable network between Brewster, Levant, Winona, and Russell Springs
- 1995 – Purchased first CATV properties – Winona and Kanorado
- 1996 - Purchased the Dighton telephone exchange from United Telephone and added a subsidiary called S&T Communications of Dighton
- 1996 - Brought Internet service to S&T customers
- 1999 - Merged S&T Communications of Dighton into S&T Telephone Cooperative Association and brought all subscribers in as members of the cooperative
- 2000 - Started offering S&T Long Distance service
- 2002 - Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL)