By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
Frontier Communications has come under fire over an extended outage of phone service in Leadmine. For over two weeks, residents of the unincorporated community have been without phone service following a series of two snowstorms earlier this month.
Concerns in the community were raised over the safety of elderly residents in the area, as well as the need for landline service in an area with limited cell reception. Karen Hockman said both she and her sister had been in contact with Frontier regarding the outage and the concerns she had regarding her mother who lives in the affected area. Along with elderly residents, Hockman also said the area has a pregnant resident as well as a family with a newborn. “The main problem is we’re worried about our moms and grandmothers,” Hockman said.
In regards to cell service in the Leadmine area, Hockman said there is one place in her mother’s house where cell coverage is available. According to Hockman, a cell phone would need to be placed in a dining room window in order to get enough service to only text, but a call would be impossible. Hockman quoted her niece on the matter. “If she falls in the right place and she has a cell phone, she can get service,” Hockman said.
Residents have stated that they were told the issue is related to limited access to the area of the outage and a dispute between Frontier and MonPower in regards to the electric company granting access to the poles needed for repair. “I think there is a little bit of dispute between them and the power company maybe as to what needs to be done first to get it fixed to get into the pole area,” Hockman said.
There was also confusion with the residents regarding where the outage area was located. “I really don’t even know where the problem is,” Hockman said. “They (Frontier) are saying they are having trouble getting to it. And if it’s up in the woods, which considering where the Leadmine area is, it’s going to be up in the woods. It’s not going to be along the road.”
According to Hockman, she was given phone numbers to contact in case of emergency. “They gave us phone numbers for emergencies, but they don’t have any phone to call the emergency numbers,” Hockman said.
Hocman said she had contacted the phone company, the Public Service Commission, the Tucker County Commissioners and the Office of Emergency Management regarding the situation. The Tucker County Commissioners were in contact with both the electric company and Frontier over the outage, as was Tucker County Emergency Management Director Kevin White. White’s office posted to the OEM Facebook Page that on Thursday, January 25, MonPower had scheduled an outage to repair damaged poles in the Leadmine and Horseshoe Run areas. According to the post, 133 customers were affected and the repairs were also intended to impact the work needing done by the phone company.
In a response given by Kevin White via text message, crews had been working on the repairs and gained ground on the matter on Wednesday. Tucker County Administrator Sheila DeVilder said both Tucker County Commissioner Fred Davis and Commission President Mike Rosenau had contacted Frontier and MonPower regarding the issue. According to DeVilder, Rosenau had stressed to both parties how important resolving the outage was and demanded a timeline for repair that he could give to residents in the area.
Resident Kathy Helmick said she had been informed by the County Commission that service was scheduled to be restored on Friday. “Our phones are supposed to be back on by Friday we just got the word,” Helmick said. “With the help of our county commission. It was a battle. Frontier think big company and they can toss little state/county and most of all little community.”
Phone service isn’t the only issue Tucker County Residents have reported with Frontier. Bull Run resident Jim Nester has also reported issues with his email service. According to Nester he has spent a total of five hours on the phone with the company to resolve his issues to no avail. “I’ve spent five hours on the phone and still have got no satisfaction,” Nester said.
Nester, who is a District Supervisor for Tygart Valley District who represents Tucker County, said he has not been able to access his email since January 16. According to Nester, he has contacted Frontier’s trouble shooting team about the issue, as well as speaking with several other Frontier employees about the issue. Nester said he was told that nothing could be done about his issue until a ticket had been issued. When asked when a ticket would be issued, Nester said they could not give him a timeline. “This is completely unacceptable to me,” Nester said. “I’m an elected official. I need to get my emails.”
According to Nester, he worked 30 years for Frontier and their predecessor companies. In total, Nester said he has made three phone calls for a total of five hours in hopes to resolve the issue.
The Parsons Advocate has contacted Frontier several times for comment on the issue, but have not received a reply.