By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Citizens Communications company was given nearly everything it wanted from the state to purchase the phone lines in Del Norte County.
The California Public Utilities Commission ruled in favor of Citizens latest request to lift some of the conditions imposed on the transaction.
The company has yet to announce, however, whether it will go through with the deal to buy local phone lines from Verizon.
If they do go through with it, they will live up to their commitments to Del Norte County, said Del Norte County counsel Bob Black. Citizens commitment includes modern phone service for Bar-O-Boys Ranch, installing Digital Subscriber Lines and stationing a service technician here.
Without the concessions of the PUC, Citizens threatened to abandon the purchase in turn threatening not to improve Del Norte Countys phone service.
PUC approved the sale of 37,000 Verizon access lines to Citizens several months ago, but only if 44 conditions were met.
Three of those conditions dealing with how Citizens spent money for system improvements for the next five years and how the company distributed dividends to stockholders, would hurt the company financially, Citizens representatives said.
The PUC ruled Thursday to accept Citizens requests with minor adjustments.
If Citizens is happy with the ruling, they will follow through with a promise to spend $119 million over the next three years to improve Del Nortes phone technology.
Notably, the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Reservations will be fitted with modern phone lines and other infrastructure as a result of the deal.
Currently the two reservations including a health clinic, a grocery store, two public schools and 180 homes are without phones there.
Though Black expects Citizens to go through with the buyout, he said if the company doesnt, the county will have to renew its suit against Verizon to get phone system improvements to the Bar-O-Boys Ranch.
Citizens is required by the PUC to respond to the ruling and make a decision whether to buy the new lines within 30 days.