The city of Lampasas , Texas , population around 7,000, knew it had a problem. Located almost in the center of the state of Texas, Lampasas is home to an historic downtown, a state park and the oldest spring-fed, free-flow pool in Texas. In short, an ideal representation of small town Texas, except when they couldn’t get to the internet because fiber lines had been cut… which happened five times over the summer.
Lampasas Chief of Police Sammy Bailey said, “We knew we had a problem when the cuts
continued to happen and the repair time seemed to last longer each time. The cuts happened on May 26, June 20, July 11, August 2, and September 14, 2017.”
For most people, a fiber cut may be an inconvenience, but for a small town like Lampasas,
it was like being thrown back to the late 1800’s.
“Our plan of action for emergency services was implemented. 911 transferred properly when services were down but persons have to be able to contact us,” said Bailey. “Of course, if all is down then persons can’t contact us via land line or cell phone, so they had to flag us down, or come to the police department, sheriff’s department or fire department. The banks and other high risk businesses with alarms closed. Officers would need to be highly visible so the public could flag them down. Police and fire department radios were taken to the schools, hospitals and a medical facility so they could contact us.”
Frustration over the continued cuts was boiling over in Lampasas. With no internet, cash
registers and similar items wouldn’t work. When the lines were down, Lampasas became
a “cash only” town. Chief Bailey wondered who they could reach out to in regards to the
company or people responsible for digging up the fiber lines.
Council meeting, which I did attend along with Sergeant/Investigator Charlie Boswell. We were able to talk about the cuts and discuss the public safety side of the cuts, expressing our concerns that someone could die if they could not reach the services they needed.”
The Council, in turn, provided additional training in regards to locating fiber optic lines and excavation when around fiber optic lines. A council member met with Chief Bailey after the meeting and informed her that he is now conducting frequent onsite observations to ensure that excavators in the areas where the fiber optic lines have been cut are following rules and proper safety practices.
The Central Texas Damage Prevention Council is comprised of construction contractors,
utility operators, gathering & transmission pipeline operators, municipalities, utility locators, engineering firms, TxDOT, and other associated industry stakeholders,
with Texas811 serving in a liaison capacity. It’s one of 23 such groups in the state.
“We appreciate the opportunity to work together and value the communication we have
with Texas811, the Central Texas Damage Prevention Council, excavators, line locators,
and individuals with whom we had the opportunity to express our frustrations, aggravations, and concerns with,” said Bailey.