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BELL ATLANTIC OFFERS PLAN TO SOFTEN IMPACT OF OMITTING LISTING IN PHONE BOOK'S BLUE PAGES

Allegany County lawmakers may use the omission of county-office telephone numbers from the latest telephone book as a way to get better service, the chairman of the County Legislature said Tuesday.

"They seem much more receptive now. We seem to have their attention," said Chairman John W. Walchli Jr., R-Wellsville.

Walchli was responding to Bell Atlantic's three-point plan to help the county, which was omitted from blue-pages government listings in the most recent telephone directory.

The Allegany County Legislature voted 13 to 1 Monday to demand a new phone book from Bell Atlantic. Although some in the Legislature doubted a new telephone book would be distributed, by Tuesday afternoon, officials at Bell had come up with a plan to make finding county telephone numbers easier.

"We contacted the county this afternoon," Bell Atlantic spokesman Mark Marchand said. "This (the omission) is rare for us and particularly troubling."

He said the following was proposed:

Residents making information calls seeking telephone numbers for Allegany County offices or agencies will be forgiven the 45-cent charge for the service.

The County of Allegany County will receive a credit on its telephone bill. The missing blue pages with county numbers will be mailed to customers who have already received the telephone book.

"This is the most expedient way to address the error that's happened," Marchand said.

Walchli said county officials have neither rejected nor accepted the utility's plan. But they do plan on meeting with Bell Atlantic officials during the second week in January.

Then, county officials hope they can iron out the current directory problem as well as address other telecommunication issues.

Walchli said currently, the county has customers served by three different telephone companies, including Bell Atlantic, meaning that in some cases, a call to a town two miles away is a toll call, while a call to a city an hour or more away is considered a local call.

"It's very confusing situation," he said.

He said he views Bell's proposal as a positive step, and indicated early calculations show the county could save as much as $1,300 on its telephone bill this year.

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