SkyLine annual meeting

Regional high school students were recognized during the 63rd annual SkyLine Membership Corporation meeting at Ashe County High School Saturday, Sept. 28. Pictured from left to right are SkyLine Public Relations Administrator Karen Powell, Rylie Larue, Sophie Kiser, Jadyn Trivett and SkyLine President R.C. Mitchell.

WEST JEFFERSON — SkyLine members congregated in the auditorium of Ashe County High School for the 63rd annual meeting of the SkyLine Membership Corporation Saturday, Sept. 28.

With hundreds of people in attendance, including Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), updates on the previous year’s business were shared by SkyLine President R.C. Mitchell and CEO Kim Shepherd.

According to the 2019 executive report, the SkyLine Membership Corporation saw a net increase of $10,439,645 in operating revenues between 2017 and 2018, which was met with a $5,368,790 increase in operating expenses. The corporation’s membership, sitting at 21,785 in 2018, experienced an 803-member decrease from 2017. At year end, SkyLine employed 140 people.

As of September, SkyLine and its subsidiaries provided internet services for 28,242 accounts and voice services for 33,572.

Shepherd, who took over as CEO last year after former CEO Jimmy Blevins retired June 30, took the stage for the second time to share a review of the year, as well as stories about her family.

Shepherd noted that in December 2018, SkyLine obtained its competitive global exchange carrier license, which will allow the corporation to offer services anywhere in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

In total, SkyLine generated more than $56 million in revenues and finished with a consolidated net income of more than $12 million, Shepherd said.

“The company’s strong, solid financial position will enable us to continue our future growth initiatives,” Shepherd said. “Our finances are a sure sign of our overall strength and well-being as a company.”

Shepherd added that one of SkyLine’s greatest strengths is its employees and diverse customer base.

“Our employees continue to be what truly defines us,” Shepherd said. “We may sometimes struggle on pricing with other providers. We don’t always have the marketing dollars that other providers do, but I can guarantee you that we will never struggle competing on service.”

In addition to updates, the company also took the time to honor students from Avery, Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga and Johnson counties with scholarships and recognition.

More than three decades ago, SkyLine board of directors established a college scholarship program for area high school students, according to Karen Powell, public relations administrator at SkyLine. The program initially provided five $1,000 scholarships and has since expanded to offer $25,000 in renewable scholarships for four-year and two-year college-bound students.

Sophia Kiser, Alec Roland, Austin Delp, Rylie Larue, Malorie Eller, Jadyn Trivett and more were recognized during the meeting.

“We are delighted to recognize their achievements,” Powell said.

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