Telephone service was a luxury in most areas of Kentucky in 1954. Rural Kentucky normally had service only in the small towns. That service was performed with a local operator making manual connections between telephone customers. In May of 1954, a small group of individuals in Cumberland County met and decided they would change communications in that rural area of south central Kentucky. They wanted to form a cooperative to provide service where the larger telephone companies would not venture. So on May 24, 1954 incorporation papers for the Duo County Telephone Cooperative were filed by its legal counsel, John S. Cary, of Burkesville, Kentucky. The group originally intended to provide service to Cumberland and Clinton counties in the southeast area of the state. Like all small entities in rural Kentucky, the cooperative struggled through organizational and operational problems for the first few years of its existence.
In May of 1956, the cooperative purchased a small manual telephone system called Russell Home Telephone Company in Russell County. The cooperative also made plans to serve rural Adair County where no service was available. Plans to serve Clinton County fell through as the cooperative was unable to purchase the manual system in that area. The system finally started getting its feet on the ground in December of 1958 when it converted its existing customer base to automated dial service in Russell, Adair and Cumberland counties.
The first official annual meeting of the cooperative’s 900 members was held on June 2, 1959. The first elected Board of Trustees from the membership was R. N. Smith (President), Ben Hardin (Secretary), and W. H. Parrish from Cumberland County; Carl B. Phelps (Vice President), H. E. Pruitt, and F. A. Smith from Russell County; and J. E. Sparks from Adair County.
The cooperative’s board selected Orville S. Schureman as its general manager in September of 1959. At that time, the cooperative had only 1,200 customers on the telephone system. Most of those customers were served on 8-party lines. Since a larger number of customers resided in its Russell County area, the cooperative moved its headquarters from Burkesville to Jamestown on June 4, 1960 and Carl B. Phelps was then elected as the cooperative’s president.
Over the next 14 years, the cooperative grew from 1,300 to almost 5,000 customers. During 1974, 8-party line service was eliminated. The cooperative installed one of the first computerized digital switching offices in the state in 1980. In 1982, Schureman retired as general manager after 22 years of guiding the cooperative through growth and improvements for its members.
Another major milestone was reached in 1984 as the cooperative eliminated 4-party line, thus providing private line service to all of its 6,500 customers. Providing quality service to rural areas is a difficult task, but the foundation of a cooperative is to provide quality service to its members and return any profits that the telephone operations generate when it is prudent. The cooperative began returning capital credit dividends to its members in 1988. Through 2008, the cooperative has continued that cooperative tradition by returning over $14,000,000 to its members in capital credit dividends.
Today the cooperative is a full-service communications company. It provides state-of-the-art quality telephone service over computerized digital switching offices and fiber optic transmission facilities. It also provides high speed internet service and high quality digital video services over both a coax and telephone network. The cooperative provides wireless telephone/data services as well through a regional partnership doing business as Bluegrass Cellular Inc..
Not only does Duo County offer the full range of entertainment and communication services, but we also have two modern customer care centers to provide the highest level of customer care and convenience to our members and customers. One located in Jamestown and the other in Columbia.
The cooperative is proud of its rural history and feels a strong commitment to continue quality service to the communities it serves.