BLUE RIDGE CUSTOMERS VENT AT CABLE FRANCHISE HEARING
By Wayne Witkowski
Pike County Dispatch – Thursday, May 17, 2018
Delaware Township residents seized the opportunity to voice their feelings and frustrations about their cable television service during a public hearing held before the Board of Supervisors last week.
The hearing will figure in the board’s decision whether to renew a longstanding franchise agreement with cable provider Blue Ridge Communications.
Six residents spoke, all of them critical of Blue Ridge, some complaining of the monopoly created and the company’s high costs for services to customers.
“Years ago, we didn’t have a franchise. Everyone complains about it,” said Bill Fells. “It’s very expensive. Standalone services are very expensive. Optimum offers a two-year plan for $79 a month. Since 1995, I’ve been paying the nose for Blue Ridge… Is the infrastructure so inferior that no (other) company comes here? I feel isolated.”
I question them and get nowhere.
“Rates are ridiculous. Channels are constantly pixelated,” said Harold Strassberg. “Under the plans we have its $100 a month (charges) with poor services.”
Pierre Lavanant said he has no access to Internet service in his area.
“Blue Ridge told us it costs them thousands of dollars to get the Internet (for us).” Lavanant said “I want (the township) to make a case for us to have Internet access as part of the renewal. They’re a big company, so I hope they’re able to do that.”
“Blue Ridge just came out with a box that they said is the best thing in the world but its not,” said Ron Hough. “There are times you can’t even get a station, that it’s not available. I did better by the old system.”
Even Roadmaster Vince Flatt and Supervisor Jane Neufeld took to the podium.
“What about service to all residents,” said Flatt. “On Myck Road, half the residents get Internet and cable and half don’t. And then we have the outages. That’s horrible.”
Neufeld complained that Blue Ridge did not remove discarded materials it generated while restoring power from the Nor’easters in early March and that some cable lines that were lowered were not raised back on the utility poles to a safe height.
“Some poles that were broken and they never came back and retrieved them,” Neufeld said, adding, “They should be responsible to customers’ needs.”
TICK SPECIMENS TO BE COLLECTED
With Supervisor Rick Koehler absent from the meeting, Supervisors John Henderson and Neufeld agreed to allow the Pike County Tick Borne Diseases Task Force to collect specimens from the township property as part of a Tick Borne Pathogen Study undertaken at ESU’s Northeast Wildlife Lab for a report of seven different pathogens ticks can carry.
“Ticks are a real problem in Pike County and our commissioners are one of the few to take the bull by the horns to examine the problems,” Neufeld said.
Jeff Opitz was approved to fill a vacant seat on the township Planning Commission after his presentation during the workshop before the meeting. A resident of Dingmans Ferry and graduate of Delaware Valley High School and the University of Pittsburgh, Opitz said he is planning over the next three month to move his business, Cera Material, from Port Jervis to Dingmans Ferry.
When asked about his interest in a Planning Commission seat, Opitz said, “What better way to serve the community as a business owner?”
He said, when asked, that his goal “is to see more commerce come to the area. I’d like to do my part.” Opitz added he wanted see commercial growth without encroaching on the natural beauty of the area.
The board approved a $1,007 annual payment to the Niki Jones Agency for standard SSD hosting and website security. Henderson challenged the cost of the service but township Administrator Krista Predmore said other agencies charge comparable rates. The board also approved ABS Solutions fee of $1,560 for its annual renewal for Office 365 for township computer systems.
Delaware Football League was granted usage for four township fields from July 23-Nov. 26 from 2-9pm for practices and games.
Supervisors approved at the meeting, after discussion during the workshop, paying up to $750 for additional signage needed at Akenac Park for things not already posted.
New signs would include “Swim at your own risk when no lifeguard is on duty” and “No smoking, No Vaping,” which was recommended by Hough.
Henderson read during the workshop a letter from Pennsylvania Department of Transportation regarding three repaving projects. State Route 2004/Silver Lake Road from SR 402 to SR 739 will be done this year. SR 2001/Milford Road from the terminus of the project on that road north of 739, on both sides of the SR 2001 intersection will be done next year.
It covers about 2,000 feet of paving.
Supervisors discussed during the workshop and at the meeting a resolution for the May 23 meeting of the National Park Service’s request to set barriers up at the end of Doodle Hollow Road, which is owned by the township, so people won’t venture onto National park property that is unsafe in spots.