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Disabled man wants utility pole out of his parking spot

Better Call Behnken

PALM HARBOR, Fla. (WFLA) – Robert Sawyer is tired of sharing his parking spot with a utility pole.

The pole is owned by Duke Energy, and he says he has hit the pole with his truck several times, as have several of his neighbors, as they don’t see the pole at night in the dark.

He says he finally convinced Duke to help months ago. Duke’s cables were moved to new poles, but Frontier Communications hasn’t moved theirs, so Duke can’t remove the pole.

Sawyer says he keeps calling Frontier, but technicians keeping saying they can’t help.

“They say there’s nothing they can do, it stays here,” Sawyer said. “He said outright, ‘There’s nothing you can do. You can call them as many times as you want, but you’re not going to get anywhere. The pole is not going to get moved.”

It’s a real problem, navigating around the pole, and the attached support wires make it difficult for Sawyer to even open his truck door. He says he tried to get the two companies to fix this before he came home – in a wheelchair – from the hospital this week.

Condo board member Shirley Poehlman says she doesn’t like what technicians tell her:

“He said, ‘those poles will be there for 20 years, it’ll rot there. They’re not going to take their cables off,” Poehlman said.

They knew they’d Better Call Behnken, and I called Frontier. Within hours, I was told the cables will indeed be moved. A spokesman sent this statement:

“A work order to re-locate our network cables off of the Duke Energy pole was issued last week. We estimate we will complete the work needed no later than the end of August.”

A spokeswoman for Duke says its work on this project was completed in May, and the pole will be moved as soon as the other cables are removed.

Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken will stay on this case until the pole is removed and Sawyer can park safely.

Getting this pole removed, Poehlman says, would benefit the entire neighborhood.

“I think it’s very dangerous. I think it’s a liability with the guide wires, plus if you’re coming in at the wrong angle, you’re either going to hit the pole, or you’re going to hit your neighbor’s car.


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