Clay Co. Sheriff looking for answers after fourth phone outage

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Sheriff's offices throughout Texoma are frustrated and looking for answers after the phone lines in Jack, Young, Montague, Archer, and Clay counties lost service.

Some lost their emergency lines, while others lost just regular service.Service was lost Tuesday from 11:20 am to 9 pm and it's the fourth time a phone line has been cut in the last six weeks.

Every outage was caused by contractors who cut the line while working on U.S. 287.

"We can't afford to be shut down for six to seven hours," Sheriff Lemons said. "This is not a retail business. This is a 24/7 365 operation. Here we are the fourth time. Come on man! That just doesn't make a lot of sense to me I'm not speaking for anyone else but myself as a citizen, as a taxpayer, we ought to have better service than that."

AT&T issued the following statement to Newschannel 6:

"On Tuesday, some Wichita Falls area customers may have experienced issues with their wireline and wireless services due to a fiber cut caused by another company. Technicians repaired the damage and service is currently running normally. We apologize for this inconvenience." - AT&T Spokesperson

Sheriff Lemons said the emergency lines being down is a public safety issue.

"When minutes count and you pick up the phone and the phone's dead, what a more helpless feeling than that," Sheriff Lemons said. "It's just unacceptable."

"I was receiving calls and transferring calls from my cell phone to the office for ambulance calls and things that we were needing through my personal cell phone," he added. "Now that is about as archaic as it can be."

Sheriff Lemons said he won't stop until they find a solution.

"The citizens want answers, I want answers, and I think it's up to us as the elected officials to find those answers for them," he said.

Sheriff Lemons said that right now they are getting no answers from AT&T and he plans on going to state congressmen and representatives to see what they can do next.

Newschannel 6 has been working to learn whether or not contractors called 8-1-1 to notify them about digging. While we were not able to confirm if they did, AT&T said they encourage anyone who digs to call 8-1-1 to get underground lines marked.

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