Wednesday, August 12, 2020


Moab, UT

77.9 F

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    Ron Drake
    Ron Drake
    Times-Independent Columnist

    Some of us can say, with some smugness I suppose, that we didn’t have phones when we moved here over 40 years ago. In fact, we didn’t have mail service either and satellite television was just some new technology that we read about in a science magazine.

    But we got along just fine without all of them. Electricity had only been in the valley for about 20 years at that time and we had to pay for the poles that it took to get connected to the power grid and the reliability of the service was sketchy at best. Continental Telephone installed the new phone service in December 1980, which involved a technology known as a microwave system that is still being used today. Over the years there have been several upgrades to the system when the phone lines were maxed out and new lines were installed. After one such upgrade the general manager said that we would never use all of the lines that were installed at that time. That was before the internet, fax machines and other technology that required additional phone lines.

    It was nearly five years after we moved here that the mailboxes, which were known as “the neighborhood delivery boxes” were installed and mail service began November 27, 1982. We were assigned “Castle Valley Star Route” box numbers before the current “Highway Contract” (HC 64) addresses.

    The original boxes rotted and were replaced and other boxes were added to meet the needs of the population.

    But in the span of 40 years a lot has changed technology-wise and the people who move here now demand modern technical services that have become a necessity to survive in today’s modern world. Just last week I was debating how I was going to get this column in to The Times-Independent when the phone and internet service went down yet again. Besides the need for modern technology, the community is getting older and we have a lot of older couples and older single folks who rely on good phone service in case of an emergency.

    Lately, however, our phone service has not been very reliable. Late last year Frontier Communications installed a fiber optic line from their little office on Rim Shadow Lane to Buchanan Lane via Castle Valley Drive that was to improve internet and phone service to customers at the upper area of the valley. They also installed a new “radio” that was also supposed to improve service but that new device has not worked properly, which causes the phones and internet to not work for short periods of time – several times a day sometimes.

    There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for when the radio goes out. Sometimes the phone will go out and not the internet or sometimes you get a dial tone and can call only call numbers within Castle Valley and vicinity, but other times there is no dial tone at all and you can’t call anyone.

    Castle Valley residents are really getting frustrated. Everyone is encouraged to call Frontier every time the phone or Internet stops working so they know that the problem is not an isolated incident but a valley-wide problem. Of course, you can’t call if the phones are out so you have to call after the fact. People have said that they have called Frontier to report the problem only to have the phone go dead in the middle of the conversation. Others have decided to send an email only to have the internet go down during the process.

    River Canyon Wireless is already an option for internet service but there is also an option for phone service that involves using River Canyon Wireless and subscribing to Google Voice, which apparently gives you the option to carry your phone number over to a smart phone or computer and will sync across to all devices. This information is over my head, but I understand that, for a nominal fee, you can move your landline number or cell phone number for use on any of your devices.

    The fire department will set up a command post at the town hall every time the phones system is not working, which gives people with an emergency a place to go to report the incident and get the proper agency responding to the emergency by radio. But with the phones going down multiple times a day for short durations a command post would have to be operating 24 hours a day and is not feasible for a volunteer department. An option would be to notify a member of the fire department who can notify the Grand County Sheriff’s dispatch office by radio and get help sent. If you don’t know a fire department member, leave a message at 435-259-3655 and they will direct you to a fire member close to you.

    Castle Valley Mayor Jazmine Duncan is concerned about the problem and said that not having reliable 911 service for emergencies is not acceptable. She has been in contact with the regional manager but has not gotten satisfactory results since the utility is not able to fix the problem. Frustrated, Duncan recently filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission in the hope that they will be able to get results.

    In the meantime, I need to send this column of to the T-I quickly while my internet is still working.

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