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Taken on top of hill within Amesville's village. Feb. 19th, 2013. (Eli Hiller for The Post)

Amesville deadzone for cell service in county

Amesville residents lack access to cell phone or internet service, but some say that it allows the community to focus on more pressing issues 

 

There are more than 100 cell phone towers registered with the Federal Communications Commission in Athens County.

None, however, seem to cover the village of Amesville quite well enough.

Some in the village of 200 or so residents will make it clear: They have limited to no cell phone service — and they couldn’t imagine life any other way. Phones struggle to send text messages and residents commonly use flower types and house colors as landmarks.

The majority of residents still have landlines, Mayor Gary Goosman said, but he sees most of his constituents going to each other’s homes to chat. They have access to the Internet, just not broadband high-speed varieties, he said. 

John Fluharty, service representative at Airclaws Heating & Cooling, said that his Verizon Wireless service is spotty at best at his office in downtown Amesville.

“I can get cell phone service if I put my phone in one spot on my desk,” Fluharty said while demonstrating the trick. 

Erica Sevilla, an Ohio spokeswoman for Verizon, said that cell phone towers are usually built in more populated areas, but would expand based on need. 

Fluharty said that although the lack of cell phone service can be a nuisance at times, it allows him to avoid distractions and focus on his work.

“It separates me from social media, and I think that is a good thing,” Fluharty said. 

Similarly, Fluharty said he thinks the lack of technology in Amesville helps create a sense of community within the village, which leads many to be outside and active in local organizations, Fluharty said. 

At Coonskin Crossing, a gas station that doubles as a deli, cashier Mindy Walker said she has no access to the Internet or cell service. 

A number of Internet providers often make empty promises for Wi-Fi, Walker said, and availability dates always get pushed back. 

She explained that residents, especially children and teens, are still exposed to the same amount of technology as everyone else. She frequently brings her children to the gas station and deli to use the Wi-Fi there. 

“Having it would be a benefit, but everyone is very country- and community-oriented anyway,” Walker said. 

With that type of mindset, Walker said, many in the village don’t mind being off the grid.

But that’s not to say reliable cell phone and Internet service wouldn’t be advantageous.

Goosman even has a government-provided iPhone, according to a previous Post report, which can never hold a signal, unless if he “goes to the top of a hill.” 

Walker said cell phone service would be helpful in emergency situations, especially after a storm about two years ago left many residents without power for more than a week. 

For about $250, Verizon will offer a “network extender” to provide a stronger signal for homes in hard-to-reach areas. 

Goosman maintained that his village has found other ways to come together during crises. He noted the fire and police departments frequently use walkie-talkies. 

The Athens County Libraries system, he said, plans on adding a Wi-Fi hotspot in the center of town, so people can park and use their portable devices. The area will eventually contain picnic tables for folks to sit outside and browse the Web during enjoyable weather, Goosman said.

But Goosman isn’t overly-excited for the move. He said his village runs fine without modern technology. 

“Even though it is very small, it has a lot of things to offer,” Goosman said.

hh337106@ohio.edu

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