Where cell phone coverage doesn’t exist, try satellite phone

Dear Street Smarts, Q: How would I find out about having call boxes installed on Empire Grade? It seems like a safety issue because there is no cell phone reception up there. I once had to walk a long way in the dark with no streetlights because my car broke down on the way home from work. On a couple of occasions, bicyclists have stopped me near Twin Gates to ask me to call an ambulance for injured cyclists, but I was not able to help because I had no cell phone reception. It seems like it would be a good idea to have a few call boxes placed on this road, Pine Flat and Bonny Doon Roads, as well as Felton Empire and Ice Cream Grade. Martha Gomez, Bonny Doon A: Yours is the “one and only” request Jack Sohriakoff, senior civil engineer for county public works, can remember for any county road. And, as tight as money is, it is unlikely your request can be fulfilled, he said. However, Sohriakoff is confident cell phone coverage will improve. "Cell coverage is getting better every day and this is more likely to happen than call boxes," he said. In the meantime, perhaps getting a satellite phone is a good idea for people who live and play where cell coverage is in the null void. A quick search online shows you can rent them. To buy them, expect to pay anywhere from just under $500 to $1,500. Highway 17, Laurel Road land donation follow-up Last week, I wrote an article about a land owner seeking to work with Caltrans and county officials to improve safety on Highway 17 at Laurel Road. The possibility of donating a portion of his 300-acre property is on the table. Caltrans officials said they need to study all options before accepting any potential land gift. “Caltrans appreciates the offer of land near the Laurel Road/Highway 17 intersection but it is premature to evaluate that since we currently don't have a specific project or plan at that location,” said Colin Jones, spokesman. “However, we are working closely with the Highway 17 community to prepare an access plan for this busy corridor, which should provide direction on how best to proceed with improvements.” Child passenger event this weekend The Safe Kids Chapter of Santa Cruz County and the Aptos/La Selva Fire Protection District are teaming up to offer parents and caregivers free child passenger education Saturday, Sept. 29. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., child passenger safety educators will provide instruction on the proper use of child safety seats at 6934 Soquel Drive. Call 685-6690 to make an appointment. Drop-ins may not be seen if the event fills to capacity. Spanish speakers can call 454-4317 for information. For information about child passenger safety, similar events and resources for families, call 454-5477.  
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