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News Release
Commission Appoints Members to Southern Oregon Toll-Free Region Task Force
October 1, 2002 (2002 - 026) (UM 1060)
Contacts:  Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – The Oregon Public Utility Commission has appointed 14 individuals to serve on an Advisory Task Force that will recommend to the Commission proposed boundaries for a Southern Oregon Extended Area Service (EAS) calling region. An EAS region will allow telephone customers to call one or more exchanges without having to pay long distance charges. Members of the Southern Oregon Legislative delegation recommended the 14 members.
There is no specific timetable for the Task Force to issue its recommendation. PUC staff will provide technical support to the Task Force as needed.
The Task Force will allow local citizens to make proposals about the size and shape of an EAS region that best fits the needs of Southern Oregon residents. While the Task Force recommendation carries substantial weight, the Commission must accept, reject or modify the recommendation, since State law requires the Commission to establish EAS boundaries.
On August 20, 2002, the Commission opened an investigation into a request for a Southern Oregon EAS region. Commission staff made the recommendation after seeing evidence of a groundswell of support in Jackson and Josephine Counties for the idea. The Commission believes it will achieve the best outcome if the region boundaries are debated at a local level.
The 14 individuals appointed to the Task Force represent a mix of community and business organizations from the area in question that should provide a diverse mix of viewpoints to assist the Commission in determining a boundary.
The next step will involve determining customer rates within the proposed EAS region. PUC staff, working with the affected companies, including Qwest, Verizon, Sprint United and Citizens, will do the rate analysis. EAS rates must be revenue neutral. That is, affected telecommunications carriers should neither gain nor lose income as a result of the new EAS.
Information regarding the proposed rates will be shared at a series of public hearings when the rate analysis is completed. After they find out what rates will be residents will have an opportunity to decide whether they still want to go ahead with creating the region.
The members include:
Jim Lewis President RVCOG
John Irwin Chair ORTCC and RTIC
Jack Duggan Chair Applegate Forum
Al Koski Josephine County Economic Development
Shayne Maxwell RVRT
George Fence Chair IVERT
Kay Harrison Central Point City Council
Mike Davis Sunny Valley CLAC
Ellen Levine Murphy/Williams
Richard Ryan Technology Committee, Medford/Jackson County Chamber
Kate Hartzell Ashland City Council
Trudy Bridgers SOTTC
Mike Walker Hugo
Flo Snyder Mayor, Glendale