IOWA HILL, CA - 134 years after the telephone was invented, the tiny mountain community of Iowa Hill finally got a dial tone this week.
"It's a big deal," said Cathy Morgan, 72, who lives two miles outside the center of town and was active in getting landline service to the isolated community. Cell phone service is spotty, and Morgan's husband died in 2006 because she couldn't get a signal.
A $2.5 million grant from California Public Utilities Commission paid for a microwave link and underground wiring. Sebastian, which provides telephone service to nearby Foresthill, will serve the residents of Iowa Hill.
The Iowa Hill Volunteer Fire Department was holding a fundraiser at the People's Park Saturday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Sebastian representatives said they would be at the park to sign up customers and sell telephone handsets.
But after going so long without landline service, some residents said they were happy to continue doing so. Al Gatt, 70, said he has good wireless reception at his home. "I like my cell phone," he said. Others said they would order landline service if only for internet access.
While Gatt spoke in front of the Iowa Hill store, the low hum of a generator could be heard out back. Iowa Hill now has a dial tone, but it still has no electric service.
Although Morgan was anxious to get a telephone, she said she has no need for outside electricity. Solar panels, batteries and generators provide power to the roughly 200 full-time residents.
"Electricity would just bring more people," Morgan said.
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net