CHIPLEY — Washington County Administrator Steve Joyner said damage to utility lines by county workers is the responsibility of the utility, not the county.
Joyner was contacted by Washington County News in response to a complaint about telephone lines damaged by a county road grader on Ben Road in Chipley Friday morning.
Melony Taylor Rogers posted a photo of a damaged telephone line on the Washington County News' Facebook page Thursday, saying the line was damaged by a road grader.
"This is the exposed telephone cable on Ben Road in Chipley, FL. (between Wausau & Sunny Hills)," Rogers wrote.
"The road grader was working on the road and once again we have no phone service and the cable/wires are left exposed on the road."
Joyner said on Friday morning that the damage was the responsibility of the utility company. Joyner said the telephone lines are not buried sufficiently in the road way and as a result the damage was the phone company's problem, not the county's.
"They probably blame the county, but the utility company doesn't bury the lines properly," Joyner said. He said he did not know what company owned the phone lines, nor did he know who the residents would contact for assistance in repairing the damage the county employees had caused.
"We have a lot more venues of communication today, the phone companies are online," Joyner said."If they can let you know about it on Facebook, then they can contact the phone company."
According to sunshine811.com, failure to call the Sunshine State One-Call of Florida before digging is punishable by a minimum fine of $250 and the job site being shut down. Members of Sunshine State One-Call include the City of Chipley, but not Washington County.
Enforcement of the fine is performed by local, not state officials, according to a spokesperson for sunshine811.com, so the likelihood of the county fining itself is slim. However, on the website, there is a form for non-compliance that can be filled out and submitted to the state in the case where utilities are damaged.
However, sunshine811.com states that One-Call of Florida "has no statutory authority to investigate reported incidents of non-compliance, to mediate disputes between excavators and members, to determine if violations of Chapter 556, F.S. have occurred, or to issue citations for violations of Chapter 556, F.S. The main purpose of the process is to provide education."