Shaw to celebrate phones

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

Less than two years after the Public Service Commission first heard of the phone-less areas of Shaw and Blackhawk, the towers are up and the calls are clear.

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell will celebrate the new phone service with the area residents and parish and state leaders Monday.

The two Concordia Parish communities, which are surrounded by water, represent the last known places in the state of Louisiana to receive phone service. Natchitoches Parish’s Mink, a heavily forested area, officially received phone service on Jan. 31.

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Executive Assistant to the commissioner Bill Robertson said there was always the possibility that another community without phone service exists, but the PSC has no record of it.

It was the fall of 2003 before the PSC learned of Shaw/Blackhawk, once discussions arose at a public meeting about Mink.

Last May, the PSC ordered Centennial Wireless to provide cell phone service to the area in conjunction with a PSC decision to grant the company access to the Federal Universal Service Fund, which finances telephone service in rural areas.

One Centennial tower was up by January, and the second tower was completed two weeks ago. Both towers were necessary for phone service.

&uot;The towers are up and running and the reports are good,&uot; Robertson said. &uot;The calls are clear.&uot;

Though Centennial erected the towers, cell phones from other providers can use the towers.

The area will still be without landline phones, something some residents have said they wanted. In the past residents have used old analog bag phones for all communications.

The PSC has numbered the houses in Shaw at around 100. The area is in south Concordia Parish between the Mississippi and Red rivers and several smaller bodies of water.

Monday’s celebration will include a pig roast and a crawfish boil for the areas residents. Robertson said he was expecting a good crowd.

The celebration will start at 10:30 a.m. at the Red River Wildlife Management Area at the intersection of Louisiana 15 and 910.