Phones still down in Preston
Dec 03, 2012 (The Dominion Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
ANYONE WITH information about the theft of copper from Frontier in the Rowlesburg, Fellowsville and Tunnelton areas is asked to contact the Preston County Sheriff's Department, at 304-329-1611, or Frontier's toll-free information hotline, 1-800-590-6605.
KINGWOOD -- It's been more than a month since Superstorm Sandy struck Preston County. Power was out in some areas for several weeks, but has been restored countywide.
Residents with landline phones have not been so fortunate.
Mary Ann Grimm lives about six miles from Oakland, Md., east of Terra Alta. She said Frontier service to her landline phone went out at 7:45 a.m. on Oct. 30, the day after the storm.
It's still out.
She has called the company many times and "every time they tell you something different."
"Every time I get a different (restoration) rate, a different lie," she said.
Grimm said she bought a new cellphone so she could get some phone service at home -- her old one didn't get a signal there. She has to stand in her breezeway even with a new phone to make or receive a call. "My husband has to drive a mile to make a phone call," she said.
Frontier Communications spokesman Dan Page said "about 600 customers in Preston County" have "reported some type of phone service problem."
It's more than the storm, he said. Copper cable thefts since Oct. 29 have "compounded restoration efforts, which began after power companies' personnel cleared access to our lines and poles."
He said Frontier has "quadrupled our personnel in the county to accelerate our work." There are typically eight to nine employees working in the county, Page said. There are now 45 full-time employees working here, along with 25 contract workers.
Lt. K.G. Wotring, of the Preston County Sheriff's Department, said Frontier has reported "at least five" copper thefts in Tunnelton, Fellowsville and Rowlesburg since the storm, one just last weekend.
"They're climbing up poles and cutting the lines," he said.
Page said the company hopes "to have service fully restored next week for the vast majority of customers."
Shauna Stull lives just two miles south of Kingwood, off W.Va. 26. Her phone went off the night of the storm and she's been in touch with Frontier at least twice a week since.
"They told me they're working on it and contractors have to come in and redo the lines in my yard." So far, she hasn't seen anyone even looking at the lines.
She has a cellphone and good reception at her home. It's the Internet she misses.
"That's how I pay all my bills and keep up on everything. Plus, I have to make sure I have my cell with me the whole time I'm at home. I'm not used to that because I have a landline."
Stull's aunt lives just 200 feet from her and has phone service.
"It's aggravating that she's right there and her phone works and mine doesn't." she said. "And I just got my bill and they charged me for the whole month!"
Frontier did mention the copper thefts to Stull as a possible reason her service is still down, and said she could call when her phone service is restored to request credit for the time she was without it.
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