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Nex-Tech promotes from within for COO position





Mike Pollock, Nex-Tech's current chief information officer, was named chief operating officer Thursday, a promotion that will become effective immediately.

Currently living in Norton and working out of the Lenora office, he also supervised the company's accounting and billing department.

Pollock replaces longtime COO Jeff Wick, who resigned in December after accepting a position as general manager of Wamego Telephone Co. in Wamego.

His resignation was announced at the same time Johnie Johnson, president and CEO of Nex-Tech Wireless, announced his resignation to pursue other career opportunities.

No one has been appointed to fill that vacancy, and likely won't for the near term, according to Nex-Tech Wireless Chairman Larry Sevier. Management duties are being split among three remaining managers, he said, with supervision by the board of directors.

Pollock will take over from Wick immediately, even though Wick's resignation wasn't to be effective until Thursday.

Sevier, general manager and CEO of Nex-Tech, said Wick was using some remaining days off and would be in and out of the office.

Pollock started with Nex-Tech in 2001, coming from Kansas Farm Bureau. He first started as Internet technology manager and soon was promoted to chief information officer, with responsibility for Internet technology and accounting and billing.

With his appointment, supervision of the accounting department will shift to Rhonda Goddard, Sevier said.

Sevier had high praise for Pollock.

"Mike was a natural fit," Sevier said in a statement. "He is a valued employee and a great leader within our organization. He has extensive experience leading change and improving efficiencies. Mike will bring seamless leadership to the Nex-Tech team."

Pollock has served as a member of Nex-Tech's executive management team the past eight years and was involved intricately with the company's massive broadband project covering 9,300 square miles in northwest Kansas, including the fiber-to-the-premise project in Hays.

That project now is more than 80 percent complete, Sevier said, although some of the work had to be suspended when cold weather set in and the ground froze.

Some aerial work has continued, however, and as temperatures warm, crews again will be able to start laying line underground.

"We should have it completed, I'm hoping, by July," Sevier said.

That will be ahead of schedule, and Sevier hopes it will come in under budget, allowing Nex-Tech to return some of the almost $100 million in loans and grants to the federal government.

Now living in Norton, Pollock plans to sell his house this spring and move to Hays. He has two sons living in Hays, one of whom attends Fort Hays State University. He and his wife, Marlene, have five children.

The open Nex-Tech Wireless position likely will remain open for a while.

"At this point, we're not actively seeking anyone," Sevier said.

With three managers on the scene, the board is providing overall supervision.

Nex-Tech Wireless is owned by Rural Telephone, Golden Belt Telephone and Mutual Telephone.

Sevier said the board is working on budgeting and long-range planning and won't look at a replacement until that's all done.

Johnson has accepted a position as executive vice president and chief development officer with Branch Communications, based in Tulsa, Okla. He plans to relocate to Tulsa.