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Communication is key

Communication is vital to progress. With the coming of CenturyTel to Alabama, taking over the Verizon telecommunications industry in this state, and the proposed change in the city's utility billing, we see two examples where improved communication can only improve our chances to progress.

CenturyTel, the eight largest local exchange telephone company in

the nation, has already proven itself more community-oriented than its predecessor. Within a week of acquiring the Verizon lines, CenturyTel has sponsored

"getting to know" you meetings in several Alabama towns, including one yesterday in Andalusia. More will be scheduled as the company shares its game plan with its newest clients. CenturyTel has promised to provide improved services, hi-tech services, and, what may be more important than anything - living breathing human beings at the end of the help lines instead of an endless round of electronic phone tag.

The city's plan to outsource utility billing, while nominally more expensive for the consumer, will benefit all the citizens. According to Mayor Earl Johnson's plan, the outsourcing would also allow for a newsletter for all customers, enabling more direct communication from the city and its department heads.

Distance allows for diffusion and even misinterpretation. CenturyTel's willingness to come directly to the customers with its plans closes that distance. If the actual telephone service they provide Alabama is as clear and open as their greetings to the state, we will all benefit. Mayor Johnson's column in the Star-News is another example of bridging the communications gap, by addressing issues directly. The proposed newsletter could prove as helpful in disseminating information.

But since the first smoke signals were sent, the first tin can tied to a string - there has had to be reciprocation. There is no point in sending the smoke signals if there is no one on the other end of the canyon to read them. There is no point in shouting into one tin can unless there is an ear pressed to its twin at the other end of the line.

Do we want better communication with the city, the state, with each other? Then we must be prepared to do our share - study the issues, read more than one newsletter to gain perspective, and question, question, question. Then we, through telephones, newsletters, newspapers and other media, must communicate back.