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Sabotage likely in north country phone outages

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Phones in part of Lewis, Oneida, Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties went down Tuesday because of a likely case of sabotage, a Verizon official said.

A fiber line in a box near Doyle and Trenton roads in the town of Marcy intersection between Utica and South Trenton was cut, said John J. Bonomo, director of media relations. The boxes are generally secure and require a key for access. State police are investigating the line cut.

Verizon reported a dozen acts of sabotage on Saturday and Sunday. More than 45,000 employees of Verizon Communication Inc. went on strike at midnight on Sunday, when the company’s contract with the members of the Communication Workers of America and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers expired.

The company and workers disagree on a range of issues, including health care costs and pensions.

The company’s wireless division is not affected by those issues, Verizon Wireless officials said.

“Various acts of vandalism and sabotage have taken place since the strike began,” Mr. Bonomo said.

Crews of non-union employees are on the scene in Marcy and repairs are expected to be completed overnight.

The line is a fiber that runs between Verizon offices. Mr. Bonomo said it is difficult to determine the exact scope of the outages.

Lewis County Manager David H. Pendergast said the county had reports of widespread outages for landline and cellular phones.

While 911 emergency calls are still being received, the sheriff’s department non-emergency lines at 376-3511 are not functioning properly. He had reports of outages in four counties.

Lewis County’s Department of Motor Vehicles office was closed, as the line to Albany, which enables processing of licenses and license plate paperwork, was down.

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