Sunday, December 10, 2023

Troy mayor looking at cell service

| December 29, 2005 11:00 PM

Troy Mayor Jim Hammons is trying to improve utilities access in Troy but is getting little help from the corporations providing those services.

Lately Hammons has been trying to get cell service to the western Lincoln County area. He has written letters to four different companies in addition to U.S. Senators Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Conrad Burns, R-Mont.

So far only Baucus and Verizon Wireless have responded, he said.

"Verizon, basically, isn't interested," Hammons said. "We're the only community blacked out in this area. We're right between Bonners Ferry and Libby."

Roger Gurnani, president of Verizon's West Area, responded to Hammons request in a letter. He said the company develops priorities based on the needs of communities and businesses and "available capital resources."

"The expansion of service to the City of Troy is not feasible in the current planning cycle," Gurnani said. "However, our network planning team will consider it in our future network expansion plans."

Next step, Hammons said, is to look at what help Homeland Security provisions can provide.

Hammons said he won't stop pursuing the need for cell service in the area, as well as fiber optics, which already connect the Troy area to northern Idaho but aren't available commercially because the telephone providers in the area don't believe their is a need or viable market.

"Those utilities could do a lot more for us than they are doing," Hammons said. "I think that's what stagnating our businesses and our businesses development efforts."

The mayor is continuing to investigate the possibility of developing a bio-mass electrical generating plant for the Troy area through the city's electrical utility. Troy has some of the lowest cost power in Montana because the city utility signed a 11-year power supply contract with the Bonneville Power Administration. That contract is scheduled to terminate in 2011 and Hammons doesn't want to wait until then to find out how to keep Troy's electrical rates affordable for its customers.

Hammons, the city's electrical utility supervisor and other council members have had some preliminary discussions with state officials. The mayor was also received encouragement from Gov. Brian Schweitzer. A second meeting with state officials is tentatively slated for later in January 2006.