Spotty cell-phone service a problem ‘all over the county’
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
Ask Alexander Paul how the cell-phone service is in Mont Clare, the rural area of Darlington County where he lives.
Paul, 82, says Verizon services the area, but he says coverage is spotty and unreliable.
“I called 911 not so long ago and they could not understand what I was saying,” Paul wrote in a letter to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice and Darlington County Council. “My doctor’s nurse called to give me my report and the call was dropped before she finished.”
“Something needs to be done,” he wrote. “Can you get it done?”
Paul’s representative on County Council, Dannie Douglas, took up that question at council’s June 6 meeting, but got little satisfaction.
“That (problem) is all over the county,” Douglas said. “Mechanicsville Road, I know for a fact it’s got dead spots. I broke down out there one day and couldn’t (call) out. … It’s all over the county. Out there around (my) church, you’ve got a tower within 500 or 600 feet … I’m in church sometimes, and we can’t (call) out there. What can we do?”
County Administrator Charles Stewart said: “I don’t know if the county can do anything by itself. … There are several spots where first responders know when they’re driving through, there would be no cell-phone coverage. … You drive through Swift Creek, you’re on Verizon, you’re gonna lose that call driving through Swift Creek every time.”
“I don’t know what we could do,” Stewart said. “That’s the cell-phone company providers – where they’re willing to provide cell-phone coverage and where they’re not. … I just don’t believe we’d be able to require cell-phone coverage in every location.”
“Lake Darpo to almost Society Hill is dead,” Douglas said. “I don’t know what to do.”
In other business at last week’s meeting, council advanced the county’s budget for fiscal year 2022-23 to the next step in the approval process, third and final reading. This budget contains a 3 percent pay raise for county employees and a relatively small property-tax increase. Voting against the budget plan were council members Angie Stone Godbold, Joyce Thomas and Albert Davis.
Davis again pushed for a bigger pay raise. “Five percent,” he said. “I said that from the beginning; I’m still sticking with it. Five percent. Let’s keep the employees we have and show our employees that we care about them.”
On another issue, Godbold suggested the county do an employee survey “where they can openly express themselves” without worrying about possible retaliation.
She added: “Eleven different people have called me that are actually employees of the county, and just expressed some things with me. … It’s just seemed to have been a lot in the last three or four weeks.”