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Cellular coverage discussed

Concerns involving cell phone tower coverage in the county were addressed during a May meeting of the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors.

“I have concerns that we don’t have Verizon coverage in the county …” said Red Oak/Wylliesburg Supervisor Kay Pierantoni. “I for one would like to do my part to see what I can do to entice them here. In discussions with the Sheriff, I understand that it would be very helpful to him to have Verizon. State Police is hampered because we don’t have Verizon service. Many people across this country have Verizon and it is impossible … ”

Pierantoni said she even thought about getting a U.S. Cellular phone just for 911, which provides coverage in the county.

Phenix/Aspen Supervisor Donna Fore said she has heard the same concerns.

She said the State Police does rely on the Verizon system for communications and when they come to Charlotte County, communication devices and phones have to be switched in order to communicate with the officers in the county.

“I don’t think that’s a very good way to go forward … ” said Fore.

She said she would like to entertain the option of looking into more Verizon coverage in the area.

“We can’t expect to grow as a county if we don’t have better coverage … ” said Pierantoni.

Fore said currently, it looks like U.S. Cellular has a stronghold on the county.

However, Chairman of the Supervisors Gary Walker said where would the county be if U.S. Cellular wasn’t there?

He said in the past, Verizon was going to consider a tower in the area and ran in to some opposition. “That may be why they’re not,” said Walker.

He also said about two years ago he heard Verizon was not building any towers anywhere. “I don’t think that situation has changed … ”Walker said.

He suggested the supervisors write letters to the company and ask if anything could be done to encourage their presence in the county.

Drakes Branch Supervisor Garland H. Hamlett, Jr. said there is a Verizon Tower currently located on Saxkey Road in Drakes Branch and Red House/Cullen Supervisor Nancy Carwile said “they’ve even put fiber up to the tower on Mt. Lyle, but they won’t light it up.”

She said Verizon Corporate is not listening.

“It’s a business decision for them,” said Walker. However, he said that doesn’t mean the county couldn’t encourage them.

Hamlett said through inquiring about tower use on the existing Verizon tower located in Drakes Branch, Verizon representatives said “no time soon.”

“It’s all based on demographics, populations served and I think Verizon looks at the more populated areas versus the rural areas … ” Hamlett said.

Fore said she thinks it is worth engaging Verizon at the county level.

“I hate to have signs at our borders saying you’re entering a county that only has U.S. Cellular coverage,” Pierantoni said.