Whenever the winter weather struck North Alabama last week, calls came pouring in to Athens City Hall and various departments in order to report fallen trees, report power lines down and inquire about road conditions.

And if they were lucky, those residents' calls went through to the correct department. According to Mayor Ronnie Marks, using the City's current phone system has been a “nightmare.”

“Some of the people calling during the ice and the snow last week were getting put through and were getting some number in Mississippi to call and report things to, which is absolutely nuts,” he said at Monday's City Council meeting.

The good news is residents were only receiving random numbers to call when the phone system was actually operational. The system was down for part of the winter weather event, and that is far from the only time it has caused the City problems.

As such, the Council voted unanimously to approve switching its phone service to WOW for both government offices and city departments.

“This contract will be for a period of one year at the cost of $1,076.48 per month or $12,917.76 annually,” said Council member Dana Henry as she read the resolution during the meeting. “The cost of these services is included in both the general fund and fiscal year 2021 operating budgets.”

While explaining the need for a switch to the Council ahead of the vote, Marks said there had been many problems with the current system. He said this had occurred not only at city hall but also at each department's office. He noted all the department managers present at the meeting were nodding their heads in agreement at that statement.

Once a change was deemed necessary, Marks said IT Director Dale Haymon researched other options for the City. Marks said this new contract with WOW will save “ a little money” compared to the previous provider.

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