We had not been able to use the internet for a week on Nov. 1 when I called Bob Lillie, the public service representative who made our Altice Learning Lab possible at Kump Education Center in 2019. Like so many people, I was ready to blame our internet provider, but now I realize that our problem was not the fault of Suddenlink.
I remembered what sincere efforts Bob Lillie had made two years ago when Altice donated ten computers, a printer, a projector, and ten tables, as well as free internet service for Alternative Learning students at KEC. When I reached Bob, he said he would call to restore our service.
Bob did call for help from the service crew, but the person he usually asked to fix problems became ill and did not send help to KEC. Ten days later when Bob was planning a trip to Elkins for Veterans’ Day, he called and asked about our internet service. When Bob learned that our service had not been restored, he immediately sent lineman Ben Smith to our rescue.
When Ben Smith checked our line, he found that we had service at the pole, but there was no service inside our building. Something had cut the line. Where was the break along that thirty-some yards of line between the rose garden where the meters are located beside the house, and the pole on Seneca Road at the top of the hill? Near the house Ben began digging and pulling the line covered with what looked like a red hose in the rose garden. However, it was not broken there.
Then he went to the entry pole at the top of the hill and began digging and pulling on the other end of the red hose until he found the break at the bottom of a steak used to hold a deer protection cage around a young apple tree. It was a conflict of our efforts to protect the historic apple orchard with our efforts to improve education with modern technology. Although our agrarian heritage hijacked the internet in its path, Ben Smith was able to reconnect our internet service and get us back online before the end of the day on Wednesday.
When Bob Lillie and Bethany Simmons, the new local Altice representative, visited us on Veterans’ Day, we were able to show them that our computers were working, and they took our service numbers to upgrade our service. Soon we will be able to serve more computers at one time and do it faster.
Good people make the difference no matter what type work or technology they use. I am very glad that Bob Lillie, Bethany Simmons, and Ben Smith will still be working for our internet provider as Suddenlink merges with Optimum in the coming year. It is not easy to guarantee that the lines will always be open, but it is clear to me that we are lucky to work with people who care about service in our remote region of the country.
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