TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Stehekin Residents Say Hold the Phone - Forever

Stehekin Residents Say Hold the Phone - Forever

Joseph (
Thu, 04 Aug 2005 16:47:53 -0700

By Ralph Thomas

Seattle Times Olympia bureau

Judy Clark yells out to greet a neighbor in Stehekin. At left is the
community's only public phone. Clark is against expanding phone
service, saying it will change too many things here, including
face-to-face contact with people in this remote area.

Phil Garfoot, who turns 68 Wednesday, shoes a horse in Stehekin.
Garfoot doesn't want phone service coming to the remote community and
he isn't alone.

STEHEKIN, Chelan County -- Ana Maria Spagna has to think hard about
how long it's been since she talked on a telephone. Two months, she
figures, maybe longer.

It's not that Spagna is anti-social or suffering from some weird phone
phobia. It's just that she, like nearly everyone else here in this
remote mountain village, doesn't have a phone.

And she'd like to keep it that way.

More than a century after telephones came to towns like Seattle, a
small company called WeavTel is pushing to connect Stehekin
(pronounced sta-HEE-kin) to the outside world. But instead of
embracing the idea, many of the town's 100 or so year-round residents
are fighting hard to keep WeavTel and the telephones out.

"Why can't we have one place in this world where there aren't any
phones?" said Spagna.

Spagna and many of her neighbors have numerous arguments against
bringing phones to Stehekin. They say it will damage the town's rustic
but neighborly nature and ruin its reputation as a place where
tourists can truly escape their hectic city lives.

Some lifelong residents, descendants of Stehekin's first white
settlers, fear the phone system would further diminish the town's
already eroding spirit of self-reliance. They fume over a federally
mandated subsidy program that would enable WeavTel to make money even
if many of the residents never hook up.

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