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Response to a letter to the Editor in the July 10, 2018 Mtn. Mail


This letter is in response to a letter to the editor by Marny Danneberg, Mountain Mail, July 10, 2018, “This was terribly mishandled.

In this letter Ms Danneberg asserts that there are two different issues at stake: was the public notified that texting was available during the most recent Verizon outage, and when was redundancy demanded of Verizon Wireless.

In regards to 911 texting capabilities Ms Danneberg is very vague as to 911 texting capabilities however during the Verizon outage voice usage through Verizon to Chaffee 911 was nearly impossible and texting was almost as unreliable, however some texts were getting through on the Verizon network. Immediately after learning of the outage and discovering the severity of the damage to the system in place I immediately contacted both of our local radio stations and recorded interviews. These were the most reliable sources of communication at my disposal. In these interviews I talked about the inability to access 911 via Verizon and I also specifically told local listeners that some limited texts were getting through to 911. I repeated visits to the radio stations each day of the outage which they in turn played several times a day so as to notify both county residents as well as our visitors to the area. This was also posted on their social media web pages and mine as well as best I could, considering the extent of the outage.

As to 911 texting capabilities as a whole this service was launched 30 months ago and made available through the Chaffee County Communications Center. At the time it was launched the Chaffee County 911 board announced this to the public in an extensive public information campaign.

As to my request for redundancy with Verizon Wireless this has been an ongoing issue for over 3 years. This communication started with them when 911 service was not possible during the 4th of July Parade in Buena Vista and so the conversations began. Bandwidth was a big issue in the north end of the county and the culmination of my conversations with them was the installation of an additional tower/repeater just south of Buena Vista. Redundancy has been on the table since that incident 3 years ago, I have been told by countless people that the fight with Verizon was hopeless because it all comes down to economics and the size of our county. I was also told that utilizing The FCC was not going to work however as your sheriff public safety is my number one concern. I persevered and have now began conversations with Verizon Wireless in regards to assuring that redundancy is built into the network and if it is in place it functions as designed. They assured me that this is also a priority of theirs however I can assure everyone I will continue this battle for all of our residents and visitors as well. I have also asked Representative Jim Wilson to assist in any way possible through our state legislature.

Sheriff John A. Spezze