BROADBAND PROMISES, BROADBAND DREAMS: WV SUPREME COURT SIDES WITH FRONTIER OVER INTERNET SPEED DISPUTE – Court Rules Customers Didn’t Read Fine Print, Requiring Arbitration

Large corporations, including oil and gas, have been pushing WV legislators to deny citizens to bring lawsuits (Judicial Hellhole), requiring them to enter into fixed money arbitration, but in Frontier’s case it was already deep in the small print. –

Bob Weaver – Eric Eyre , Staff Writer Gazette Mail
Frontier Communications customers dissatisfied with their internet speeds and service won’t get their day in court.

The West Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Frontier customers must settle their disputes over internet speeds through arbitration — not in a court of law.

The decision ends a three-year legal battle in which Frontier customers alleged the company failed to provide the high-speed internet services it advertises. The Supreme Court reversed a previous ruling by Lincoln County Circuit Judge Jay Hoke, who had sided with Frontier’s disgruntled customers.

“We believe the Supreme Court’s decision is wise and fair,” said Frontier spokesman Andy Malinoski. “The arbitration provision in our service contracts is both fair and consumer-friendly.”

Frontier, the lone internet provider in many rural parts of West Virginia, has noted that it offers “cost-free” arbitration for claims on damages up to $10,000. Customers suing the company stood to gain significantly more in damages had the case proceeded and ended with a court settlement or jury verdict.

Supreme Court Justice Beth Walker wrote Thursday’s opinion. No other justices’ names are listed, as is usual with unanimous decisions.

The court agreed with Frontier that the company’s internet customers assented to “terms and conditions” that barred class-action lawsuits and required the two sides to settle disputes through arbitration.

Frontier customers alleged the company buried those arbitration provisions in multi-page monthly bills, using print so minuscule that nobody saw it.

The Supreme Court, however, concluded Thursday that Frontier gave “reasonable notice” about the arbitration terms — both online and in bill inserts.

“[Customers] assented to the changes by virtue of continuing to subscribe to Frontier’s internet service after the reasonable notice was provided,” Walker wrote.

Frontier established its arbitration provisions in September 2011. The company sent notice to customers in subsequent billing statements.

In 2014, Frontier customers sued the company, alleging Frontier “throttles back” its internet service and provides slower speeds to save money and boost profits. Frontier never notified customers about the practice, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit alleged that only 12 percent of Frontier’s customers in West Virginia receive “true” high-speed broadband internet service. The lawsuit also claimed that Frontier’s internet service frequently doesn’t work, and customers must repeatedly turn their modems off and on to restore service.

Frontier responded that the handful of customers suing the company got the internet service they paid for.

Hoover kids may not be in portable buildings until next school year

By Carrie Hodousek in News
ELKVIEW, W.Va. — It could be next school year before Herbert Hoover High School students move in to portable classrooms on the Elkview Middle School campus, according to Kanawha County School Facilities Director Chuck Wilson.

“We’re probably going to get done somewhere close to the end of school, so if they don’t get in there at the end of this year, they will certainly be in there and comfortable by the start of the next year,” Wilson told MetroNews Tuesday.

Hoover has been sharing space at Elkview on a split schedule since the start of the school year. The Hoover building was destroyed in the June 2016 flood.

Nearly 50 classroom units are being installed on the Elkview parking lot.

Crews were scheduled to finish work on the portables by the end of April, but Wilson said the completion date is being pushed back due to the workload.

“We’re dealing with utility companies, a lot of outside entities that we really have no control over their timetables. It’s just there’s a lot of work to be done,” Wilson said.

It’s been a long process for crews working to get the portables up for flooded schools in the Elk River community. On Monday, students at Bridge and Clendenin Elementary schools moved into portables on the Bridge campus. Clendenin kids have been sharing space at Bridge since the flood destroyed the Clendenin building.

It’s been a “relief” for students and staff on that campus, Wilson said.

“They’ve been in incredible circumstances. It’s been tough, but now this gives them a little bit of room to spread out,” he said.

The work at Elkview is taking longer because the high school needs more space for certain courses, Wilson said.

“Everything from chemistry labs, technology, so it’s running a little bit longer than what was projected. Each day we come across issues and resolve them and move forward,” he said.

The Hoover and Clendenin buildings will be demolished in the coming months. Sites to build the new schools are being discussed. The Kanawha County Board of Education will need to approve the two locations before construction can start.

GIANT WV ENCYCLOPEDIA ON-LINE FREE – Mapping Features Upgraded

The publishing of the West Virginia Encyclopedia in 2006 was a major effort, involving 600 writers, editors and graphic artists.
The 944 page book, which sold well, covered 2,118 subjects.

The WV Humanities Council placed it on-line for free reading and research at wvencyclopedia.org

The Council is updating the articles and adding new features to the site, and now a mapping feature has been upgraded to make maps more interactive and more article-specific.

The West Virginia Geological & Economic Survey in Morgantown provided a $21,094 grant for the project.

West Virginia Humanities Council says in a news release that the upgrade has expanded the encyclopedia’s mapping capabilities for educators, students, librarians and the public.

The council launched the encyclopedia in 2010. It contains 2,300 articles, multimedia, quizzes and an opinion poll. The million-dollar project, mostly funded in part by the state, has actually made money.

Longtime Boone County board member resigns

By MetroNews Staff in News
MADISON, W.Va. — A longtime member of the Boone County Board of Education abruptly resigned on Friday.

Danny Cantley stepped down,but offered no reason or comment for his departure.

State Police indicated last month Cantley was part of their investigation into allegations of embezzlement from the Boone County Schools Transportation Division. Two people have already been charged in connection with the ongoing probe.

Cantley had served on the Boone County School Board for 24 years.