John Holbrook, a local land owner, and Rick Howard of Howard’s TV Cable have recently had a dispute over right-of-way access to a utility pole that houses vital fiber internet infrastructure. This has led to internet outages for a large portion, if not all of Howard’s TV Cable internet subscriber base.
Mr. Howard states that this altercation began when Mr. Holbrook was seen exiting the residence of Brandon and Daniele Marshall, daughter and son-in-law of Mr. Howard. Mr. Howard states that he is the owner of this property and confronted Mr. Holbrook and his spouse Megan stating, “Megan, do not have him on my property again.”
Mr. Howard then stated that Mr. Holbrook called him and threatened him with physical harm. “That’s when he called me and said he was going to cut my guts out, and then a couple days later is when he started making threats on the cable.”
Mr. Howard alleges that Mr. Holbrook intentionally cut the internet cable on the utility pole in question, stating that on Wednesday, February 15th Mr. Holbrook called Howard’s TV cable office and spoke to Mr. Greg Bowen informing him that he was going to “cut the cable.” Mr. Howard stated that Mr. Bowen responded, “Please don’t do that, man. That will cause us a lot of work.”
Mr. Howard states that after they get permission to fix the issue they are expecting the job to take approximately twelve hours to complete stating, “that’s a high count fiber.”
Mr. Bowen has not been contacted for this article.
Alternatively, Mr. Holbrook has alleged that Mr. Howard was the one who cut the cable. Mr. Holbrook states, “Somebody cut Howard’s cable up there. I’ve got a broke leg. I told Rick last night, above the law, it’s probably standing fifteen to eighteen foot in the air. I know Rick cut it cause he’s just drama. Rick just wants drama.”
Mr. Holbrook also alleges that Mr. Howard threatened him with a firearm. He states, “I talked to Foothills over Rick last Friday night pulling a gun on me, in front of my little girl. That I wanted him to apologize to me and my child. He will not. He’s not man enough to apologize to her.”
Mr. Holbrook went on to state, “They contacted Foothills last night, the state police and the county law did. Rick Howard does not have no right-of-way, nowhere’s across Magoffin County… Howard’s Cable, Frank Howard’s Cable, or whoever. They just have a right-of-way to the pole. They have been stealing services off Magoffin County for years. They don’t have no right-of-way across nobody’s land. And, I will not let him on my land to hook it back up. And, I told him to take me to court. It’s a civil matter. So, I’m just waiting to go to court to see what the judge says.”
He further stated, “And, I can tell ya this… I can’t be bought. He will not buy me off. I feel sorry for the people of Magoffin County. I mean, on their cable and internet. My family owns across the road, on the cemetery, and they’re not going to let him cross it. So, I don’t know what they’re going to do with an alternate route.”
Foothills Communications is currently under a contractual agreement with Howard’s Cable. Foothills has not been contacted for this article.
Upon interviewing Mr. Howard he stated emphatically, that there was no truth to the statement that he had brandished a gun at Mr. Holbrook. He stated, “There is no gun that has been pulled on him. He is lying. He’s lied in the past and if I ever pull a gun on him, I will use it.” “If he comes toward me, he’s come toward me and tried to open my truck door before, on my property. And… Me with a pistol, when I raised the pistol up, this was a year back. He would always take off running. So, you know, I’m not going to shoot the boy, unless he comes toward me and tries me physical harm.”
He continued, “I had Randall Moore with me, his wife was filming it. He couldn’t produce a film of it. He’s just saying that.” “No guns have been drawn. And, even the state police come up there last night and searched my vehicle, found no gun in the vehicle.”
Mr. Moore has not been contacted for this article.
Upon speaking with Sheriff Bill Meade of the Magoffin County Sheriffs’ department, he informed me that, “There were no weapons on the scene at the time of police arrival.”
When I asked Mr. Holbrook about any past animosity between Mr. Howard and himself, he replied, “Rick tried to run me off of my property for ten years. I own a 65’X65′ square beside of his garage. And, he has put me through hell.”
I replied, “So, any animosity between you two dips back for a while?”
He responded, “Well, I hadn’t had no dealings with Rick for probably ten years and I was invited to Ricks daughters house, last Friday. He pulled a gun on me in front of my little 7-year-old girl. That’s whats caused the whole situation. But, I did not… did not cut the cable up there. I ain’t able to cut it. And, I have asked nicely for them, I have contacted him and his sisters and brothers to nicely remove it. But, I have got a broke leg and I got proof from the doctor. I do good to walk, get out of the house, I broke my leg in two. And, they won’t remove it. And, they don’t have no right-of-way.”
When asked if there had been any history of violence between Mr. Holbrook and Mr. Howard, Mr. Holbrook responded “Ah… we’ve fist fought a few times.”
When Mr. Howard was asked what caused the contentious relationship between Mr. Holbrook and Himself? He replied, “Since that boy got old enough to talk. His dad worked for us… For me, for years; Johnny B. And, I thought the world of him and never had one bit of problem until John Jr. got old enough to talk.” “Well, you see there is a such of thing as prescriptive right-of-way. Even if our pole were to be an inch or two over his land, we’ve inhabited that right-of-way since 1975, and if there is a peaceful use of right-of-way across someone’s property and they allow you to for more than 15 years, then it considers un-revokable.”
I have been informed that a civil hearing to resolve this matter has been scheduled for Monday, the 20th of February. Until then, it seems that this Hatfield and McCoy-style feud could continue to cause network outages for a while into the future.
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