By Meg Dickens
The town of Mountain City is considering changing to a different phone system in the area. Officials report that ineffective phone lines have led to damages in the past. According to staff, departments from within the town have reported issues related to their phone systems. The issue led to a discussion during this month’s Mountain City Council meeting.
“In the past years, we’ve had a lot of trouble with our phone line system,” said Wastewater Plant Manager Chris Atwood while explaining the issue. “I’m just going to be honest with you all. You can’t rely on it.”
The phone systems are integral to different city departments. For example, Wastewater Plant employees use these systems for reporting back and automatic notifications from the plant itself through telemetry. These alerts show that there is a problem and notifies someone to fix said problem.
Atwood explained: “Overflows have happened in the past because notifications could not go through.”
During the Tuesday, January 5 Mountain City Council meeting, Atwood also mentioned that one of the plant’s phone lines, ending in digits 1912, had been out for a while, and no one had responded or shown up to fix the issue. He reached out to the City Council members for their views on what action, if any, to pursue.
“It’s not just the phone that needs to be changed at the Wastewater Plant,” said City Recorder Sheila Shaw. “I think the whole town system needs to be looked at.”
Officials discussed switching from the city’s current, Century Link connection to possibly Charter or Skybest, but there are complications related to the company being at the end of a line. Charter would have to run a new line to make the switch to it possible. Alderman Dustin Shearin commented that he did not believe Skybest currently reached that far. Shaw mentioned she spoke with Skybest about possibly changing over the city, but the service was not available at all of the city’s locations.
“I do have someone that will be addressing the board next month with a proposal to change the entire system,” Shaw described an unnamed Johnson City company. “I don’t think we’re there yet. I think we need to be talking to some more people. This phone system that we have is old. It’s been here as long as I’ve been here.”
Shaw explained that this is a long-term project and will take quite a bit of time. The county is almost finished with switching carriers after approximately two years of work, according to Shearin. The City Council will seek proposals for upgrade prices city-wide and consider the options when the proposals come in. To listen to the Mountain City Council’s meeting recording, visit the city website.