Hillsboro customers who depend on Eagle Communications for cable television, Internet and phone service were cut off for about 19 hours last week because of a severed underground fiber-optics cable about a mile outside of Marion.
Travis Kohlrus, general manager of the Hays-based company, said a contractor he did not identify was laying cable east of Marion when it cut the cable Eagle leases from the Technology Excellence in Education Network.
TEEN provides interactive distance learning opportunities for the Centre, Herington, Hillsboro, Marion and Peabody-Burns school districts.
“The TEEN group is responsible for locating that fiber, which they did,” Kohlrus said. “This other underground contractor apparently either didn’t read the locates right, or whatever, and cut through the fiber-optic cable.”
The incident occurred around 6:15 p.m. Tuesday; service was restored around 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Kohlrus said it took several hours to find the severed cable once the incident was reported.
“Typically, you know when you cut a fiber—and the crew is there and the hole is somewhat open,” he said. “But in this case they covered it up and went on down the road.”
Kohlrus said Eagle called in an emergency locate provider to help them find the problem.
“The first spot we checked was freshly excavated by that contractor, but that wasn’t where the fiber was cut,” he said. “So we went down the road about eight miles.”
Workers finally found the problem near the intersection of U.S. Highway 56 and Remington Road between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.
“Unfortunately, (the cable) was cut on the edge of the highway and underneath the highway,” Kohlrus said. “So we had to call in some emergency locates on the other side of the highway.”
In addition to the Eagle crew, a team from Allegiance Communications volunteered to assist.
“Once we got all the cable exposed, we put new cable in to replace it, and then we had to tie it all back in,” Kohlrus said.
“I think it was around 10 in the morning when we got the fiber spliced. Then we had a little issue to work out that took another couple hours, so it was about 1 p.m. before everything came back online.”
Kohlrus said Hillsboro was the only community affected by the loss of Eagle services.
“Hillsboro was the only community affected because it was a leg between Marion and Hillsboro that was cut,” he said. “Hillsboro was the only community that fed off of that.”
Brandi Hendrix, TEEN director, said the public schools in Hillsboro and Peabody also lost service, as did Tabor College.
“Both of them were pretty much shut down,” she said of the two school districts. “It took all their networks down.”
Aside from the inconveniences for office staff at both district offices, Peabody-Burns was forced to cancel a day of summer school because of the interruption.
Hendrix said she was at the repair site all night, and was impressed with what she saw.
“I was out there with a great group of guys from Eagle and Allegiance and from Boyd (Excavating Co.),” she said. “They were a great crew to work with.”
“The crew put in about 19 hours of solid activity on that,” he said. “It was quite the deal, but that’s why they have a Kansas One-Call (811) and a locate process to try to avoid all that, because an ounce of prevention so worth a pound of cure.
“The nice thing about fiber-optic cable is that part of its architecture is that every so many miles it gets spliced,” he added. “Splicing, if done correctly, really has no impact or degradation or anything.”