Gaining connectivity to Internet a long struggle


After completing two tours to Afghanistan, my husband, a U.S. Army veteran, and I made the decision to return to Elkins to raise our son. We built a house in the neighborhood where I grew up and began focusing on goals for our future, including the completion of my college education.

As a full-time employee for Randolph County and a full-time student at Fairmont State University, it was necessary for me to work on assignments at home during the evenings and weekend. However, our house was located in a rural area in which Internet service was limited. In fact, we were one of a few homes in the middle of where the service ended and began again; there was only one house separating ours from the next Internet customer with full service. Despite numerous attempts to persuade Frontier to extend the service to our family and the homes of our neighbors, we were unable to establish a connection.

On July 17, 2012, an email was distributed to four local politicians in attempt to seek assistance, an excerpt of which follows:

“As representatives of our district including Elkins and Randolph County, it is important to be knowledgeable with regard to hardships faced by the citizens of the rural areas within your represented counties; more specifically, the lack of Internet availability to these areas. Despite specific negative stereotypes with regard to the citizens living in rural West Virginia counties, there are educated, productive members of society who could benefit from Internet access.

“My husband and I are both professionals and are in dire need of this connectivity to allow our careers and scholastic opportunities to progress successfully. Not to mention, the benefits that our children can have educationally through the tools provided by the Internet. However, there are children currently in our specific location from grade school ages to high school that could be taking advantage of these technological opportunities. Essentially, children who live outside of these areas are significantly at a greater advantage to the aforementioned rural residents.

“The decision of limitation should not lie within the hands of the public service provider. As senators and delegates, it is requested that you eliminate the discriminatory process established by Frontier Communications and demand the remedy of this situation. Why should the future of our West Virginia children be determined by a business’ financial decision? Please remember that the voters who reside in this area, as well as other rural vicinities, may not have had the resources to do their accurate candidate research prior to arriving at the polls. Let’s band together to make available these educational opportunities to young and old, statewide.”

This email was sent a few months prior to the November 2012 election, yet a sole response from Delegate Denise Campbell was received. No empty promises or offers of assistance were extended from any of the other candidates. Nonetheless, after nearly six months of continuous phone calls, emails and determination from Campbell, our household finally has Internet connectivity.

I am not a political enthusiast, but I am an active and educated voter. Regardless of not yet having Internet service in November, this voter did not forget the hard work and dedication of Campbell on behalf of my family and those around me. It is often easy to get consumed by effective campaign strategies and elaborate speeches padded with good intentions; however, in the next election, let us not forget the candidates who are willing to push up their sleeves and get to work. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “Well done is better than well said.”

Carmen Howell