Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 24, 2003

Metro calling proposal coming along for Winsted

By Julie Yurek

The wheels are in motion for metro calling.

Winsted resident Bonnie Quast has more than half of the 260 signatures, 176 to date, on the petition the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) sent Quast at her request.

Quast is on the city council, but neither a city nor a company can request the petition. A resident must contact the PUC to start the process of metro calling, said council member Tom Ollig at a previous Winsted City Council meeting.

Quast has not been able to go on a door-to-door campaign at residences or businesses because of the weather, she said.

"If anyone wants to help, that would be great," she said. Or, if anyone wants to sign the petition, Quast will make sure she gets it to them, she said. Quast may be reached at (320) 485-2353.

The handful of businesses she has visited have been very helpful, she said. Employers have passed it around to employees to sign if they wish.

Only one business and two residences have turned it down, Quast said.

Residents may only sign the petition if they have a (320) 485 phone number, Quast said.

Ollig also noted that residents or businesses that have more than one (320) 485 phone line, can only sign the petition once. However, a resident can sign twice if he or she is both a homeowner and a business owner in the prefix area, he said.

Once Quast has the 260 signatures, she must then send it into the PUC.

The PUC would then contact TDS TELECOM and surrounding telephone companies to do a cost study to determine what the "metro additive" would be in Winsted, Ollig said.

Whether or not metro calling comes to Winsted is up to its citizens. A vote would be conducted and 51 percent of the cast ballots would need to be yes for the service to be approved, Ollig said.

"Signing the petition commits a person to nothing," he said.

Metro calling would allow residents and businesses to call the Twin Cities area without long distance charges.

If metro calling passes, residents will have two options for local service, a flat rate or measured rate.

There would be an increase in the base telephone rate for this service, however, a measured service option would be available for those who use the phone very little.

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