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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Gray writes second letter to state about phone troubles


MASSENA - After a Verizon phone service outage last summer, Supervisor Joseph D. Gray sought answers from the state.

“It is time for New York State and its Public Service Commission to put an end to this situation which seems to arise at least once a year,” Mr. Gray wrote to Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome.

With another year comes another outage, and another letter: this time to Dierdre Scozzafava, Deputy Secretary of the state Department of State Division of Local Government Services.

“I would have called your office to speak with you directly, but I couldn’t because our telephone service was unavailable. In fact, that problem is the subject of this letter,” Mr. Gray wrote.

A phone service outage on Thursday prompted Mr. Gray to seek answers from the state once again on phone service problems which have occurred three times since he took office over two and a half years ago. A cut line near Syracuse disrupted service to portions of the north country for a period on Thursday afternoon.

Mr. Gray said he continued to experience some phone issues on Friday. Verizon needs to improve its infrastructure to avoid outages caused by cut lines over 100 miles away, or the PSC needs to hold the company accountable, he said in the letter.

“On behalf of the Town of Massena and thousands of other people across the north country, I am imploring you and your staff to help us correct this serious shortcoming in our telecommunication system,” he said.

“It is imperative that something be done to correct this perilous flaw before someone dies or is left with permanent disabilities because a call for emergency services did not get through our antiquated system.”

Mr. Gray said he sent the letter to Ms. Scozzafava because she understood the north country, and not the PSC, because he was “not going to waste my time with those bozos.”

“The PSC is the most inappropriately named department,” he said.

“If you sit in downtown Albany every day with your feet on your desk, you don’t know what goes on in northern New York and you don’t care.”

The PSC actually has been examining Verizon’s service record, according to spokesman James Denn. The PSC has collected dozens of documents and public comments from 2010 to now, which can found on its web site, pertaining to Verizon service throughout the state.

“The commission is very much aware of service quality issues for certain Verizon customers,” Mr. Denn said. “It commenced a proceeding to examine the different options that might be available.”

There is not yet a time table for when the PSC will stop collecting information and reach a decision, he said.

“The commission staff is hard at work analyzing all the communication that is coming in,” he said.

Mr. Gray said he was not aware of the PSC’s efforts when he sent the letter, and called it “welcome news.” He hoped the PSC could concentrate particularly on the service problems in the north country, as the proceedings focus on a variety of issues.

“If it’s going back two years, one has to wonder when we’ll get a final determination,” he said. “I would hope it would be soon.”

Verizon spokesman John Bonomo praised the staff for working diligently Thursday and Friday to identify the problem and fix it. An oversized truck near a Central Square housing development apparently pulled the line down, knocking phone service out.

Preventing that problem from occurring again is easier said than done and would require additional infrastructure, he said.

“It would take engineering and reprogramming to send circuits back another way and frankly, back another way that’s not already engineered,” he said. “I’m sure we will look at that. It’s not a simple matter to do that ... Its a very intricate and complex network we have.”

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