Jay supervisor: Investigate utilities

ELIZABETHTOWN – Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas is calling for an investigation into local utility companies after much of the North Country spent Monday without phone and Internet service.

Frontier Communications and Verizon Wireless cellular and landline phone service was down for about 12 hours Monday from Keeseville to Wilmington after a fiber optic line went down. Douglas said at an Essex County board meeting Tuesday that it put many of the county’s constituents at a public safety risk, with 911 service not working.

“Thank God that we didn’t lose a life during this whole incident,” Douglas said.

Rescue and fire departments in AuSable Forks, Jay, Upper Jay and Keeseville manned their stations for up to 13 hours Monday to be ready in case of an emergency. Douglas thanked them for their service, missing the cookouts and services they would normally attend on Memorial Day.

Douglas said he was concerned with the lack of communication between Frontier and Verizon and municipal leaders. He said there’s no reason those people couldn’t contact him or Essex County Manager Dan Palmer.

“The whole thing was very panicky, very frustrating, and in this day and age, there’s no excuse for it,” Douglas said.

He said he’s asking the governor’s office, the Public Service Commission and federal Department of Homeland Security for a full investigation and report on what happened.

“I will not stop until we have answers,” Douglas said.

Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey said her town has had problems with Frontier as well, problems the municipality hasn’t been able to deal with through regulatory mechanisms.

“There’s no mechanism for a community to complain,” Montgomery-Corey said.

She asked Douglas to include general quality issues with the company in the investigation, which he said he would do.

Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said his town has also had frustrations with utility companies. He said they have been downsized too much and there is no control anymore. During Tropical Storm Irene, he said there was a low-hanging wire that a utility company took a week to deal with.

Chesterfield town Supervisor Gerald Morrow said Frontier has a business office in his town, and the people who work out of there are local.

“The workers are, but not the company,” Morrow said.

He said often the workers’ hands are tied in situations like the one Monday.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or jcollier@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.