<img class="size-medium wp-image-54612 alignright" src="https:\/\/theenterprise.net\/wp-content\/uploads\/sites\/23\/2021\/07\/internet_1626776389-300x125.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="125" \/>By Taylor Boyd\r\n\r\nA petition of more than 240 signatures and personal stories about the need for reliable internet and phone service in the county recently was presented to the Patrick County Board of Supervisors.\r\n\r\nSara Dalton, of Meadows of Dan, said she collected the signatures to detail how the lack of reliable service has adversely affected lives in the county.\r\n\r\n\u201cI did get some comments from people that said their internet services was reliable and asked if they could sign the petition anyway in solidarity with their neighbors, relatives, and friends who do not have service,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nDalton said some of the stories she was told were from elderly residents, mainly those in their 80s and 90s, with some living alone and needing reliable service for lifesaving purposes like telemedicine.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s not just for elderly people, we found we need that in our household. The first time we tried it with our CenturyLink internet, it didn\u2019t work. My husband had to end up talking to his doctor on the telephone,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nDalton also heard personal anecdotes from students who tried to do their schoolwork on cellphones, school personnel about how internet access effected the school year, parents who tried to teach their children without the internet, and people attempting to run small businesses and work from home.\r\n\r\nDalton said she recently talked to a recent Patrick County High School graduate who plans to do her first two years of coursework at Patrick Henry Community College online via the internet.\r\n\r\n\u201cShe has access to a hotspot, "but when she has lots of work, she has to drive down the mountain to Mt. Airy (N.C.) to have access,\u201d she said. \u201cI just think it\u2019s incredibly hard when people without adequate internet are trying to make a living, and it doesn\u2019t really need to be that way because there are alternatives.\u201d\r\n\r\nShe said her daughter, who lives in a remote area of Southeast Asia has better internet access there than at her house in Meadows of Dan.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe last time she came to visit us, we had to rent a house for her in Floyd County because we didn\u2019t have enough broadband for her to teach,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nDalton said she also disagrees with the notion that the lack of internet is a tradeoff people have for living in such a beautiful place.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhere I live, in the winter when the leaves are off, I can see Primland right across the gorge. I think they have the fastest internet probably anywhere in Patrick County,\u201d she said. \u201cWe\u2019re not here asking for some luxury, we\u2019re rather asking for reliable service that is integral to life, livelihood, and learning for all of our citizens.\u201d\r\n\r\nSteve Terry, of the Broadband Committee, said the house he and his wife live in had better phone service 30 years ago than it has today. He emphasized that the petition also included phone service, because both internet and telephone service are vitally critical.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe have no cell service in many of our homes and cannot notify anyone if some of us get ill and need emergency attention. That\u2019s how someone may die because of that one of these days,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nTerry said when there is an issue that prompts a call the current provider, there is a lengthy wait before the call is answered.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey\u2019ll come out and fix it, and a lot of the problems are intermittent. They get out there and it might sound clear, and they go away and the next day, it rains and it\u2019s popping and cracking, and the same thing,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nTo help fix this problem, Terry and some others came up with ideas which were submitted to the board, one of which involves calling the vice-president of the current service provider in to talk to residents and hear their complaints.\r\n\r\n\u201cCarroll County did this sometime back, under their previous county administrator. They had a bunch of complaints that night from citizens just like us,\u201d he said, and added that meeting resulted in changes that helped expedite repairs.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think the county should call with the number of problems we\u2019re having and talk to your people in your areas. It\u2019s not just our area. We\u2019re tired of it, and we need better service,\u201d Terry said.\r\n\r\nHe also noted that the State Corporation Commission (SCC) is legally responsible to ensure that Virginia citizens have reliable phone service.\r\n\r\n\u201cThey will react, I think, to a letter from this body. I think this body should send a copy of our petitions and our complaints and with some requests for them to intercede,\u201d he said.\r\n\r\nTerry was previously told by Gov. Ralph Northam\u2019s Chief Broadband Advisor, that he thinks ample money is planned to potentially get fiber lines to homes in Virginia.\r\n\r\nHe said the county needs to have a plan for when those funds become available to ensure every part of the county can be served.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe\u2019re not here to criticize or cast blame. We\u2019re here to try to help the county with things that we are sorely in need of,\u201d Terry said.\r\n\r\n<strong>In other matters, supervisors:<\/strong>\r\n\r\n*Voted to draft a resolution instructing the county attorney to notify the judge requesting a special election in November for the Commission of Revenue\u2019s position.\r\n\r\n*Heard an update from Rebecca Adcock, executive director of the Patrick County Chamber of Commerce.\r\n\r\n*Amended the fiscal year budget for fiscal year 2021-2022.\r\n\r\n*Approved a motion to pay bills, claims, and appropriations in a 3-2 vote.\r\n\r\n*Heard a report from Geri Hazelwood, county administrator.\r\n\r\n*Voted to hire James Houchins as the full-time receptionist at the Patrick Henry Community College Recreation Department.