PSC pledges help for Shaw phones

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

He has said it again and again, but Friday, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell began working on providing phone service to the southernmost parts of Concordia Parish.

&uot;I found out there is a lot more people there than I realized,&uot; Campbell said Saturday after a trip to Blackhawk the day before.

&uot;It’s ridiculous that people in the year 2004 don’t have a telephone. It’s not safe.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

Campbell’s visit was his first to the area. He met with residents of Shaw and Blackhawk. While there are thousands of hunters who come to the area seasonally, there are probably 50 or so permanent residents.

&uot;I don’t care if it’s three people living down there. There is no excuse not to have telephones,&uot; he said.

Campbell met with Concordia Rural Electric Saturday, who provides electricity to the area. The poles are already there and Campbell said the electric company said they would be happy to run the phone lines.

The Shaw/Blackhawk area is one of two in the state that do not have telephone service. The other, Mink, received a commitment from BellSouth and the PSC to have phones within a year. The nearest phones to Mink were 30 miles, while the closest phones to Shaw are 13 miles.

&uot;If they did it in Natchitoches (parish), they can do it in Shaw/Blackhawk,&uot; Campbell said.

Campbell said he will talk to the commission at its next meeting later this month and ask phone companies to come in with prices for running the service.

&uot;Let’s get it done,&uot; he said. &uot;There is no excuse for the telephone company not to run the lines. If they got the telephone poles, I don’t know why they can’t run them.&uot;

Residents of the Shaw community can get spotty cell phone service but have to use the old analog, bag phones for good reception. Many

residents said in February they want the service and prefer landlines to a new cellular tower.

Campbell said Saturday he does not see why land lines cannot be run to the community, but wireless technology or cellular service may have to be the viable option.

&uot;I would hope we’d get them a phone within a year and half,&uot; Campbell said.