The threatened shutdown of Wallowa County's cable TV system was eased with only days to spare when Almega Cable paid a $13,267 court judgment owed to the parent company of Crestview Cable, the system's former owner.

The funds were wired Tuesday, Oct. 20, to a bank account for California Oregon Broadcasting, Inc., owner of Crestview. COBI vice president Roger Harris confirmed that the payment had been received.

"Crestview Cable will not be disconnecting the cable service for Wallowa County on Oct. 26," Harris said in an e-mail.

"Almega Cable has paid the outstanding judgment owed to Crestview. Crestview will grant Almega additional time to secure pole contracts with the pole providers."

COBI had planned to remove the cables from phone and power poles beginning Monday, Oct. 26, over Almega's failure to pay pole rental charges to Verizon and PacifiCorp, owners of the poles, since Almega's purchase of the system last November.

The court judgment covered pole rental that Crestview had paid since November because Almega had not transferred the rental contracts as required in its purchase agreement with Crestview.

Almega spokesman Arun Jayaprakash said the company's owner, Thomas Kurien, would transfer the pole rental contracts to Almega before the end of October.

Enterprise City Administrator Michele Young, who had been in talks with both companies to try to save cable service, expressed pleasure that the system will remain in operation.

But she said she was disappointed that whole episode arose in the first place and was unsure about the system's future.

"We'll see what happens," she said.

The dispute provided an opening for Steve West, owner of the Dish Network and DirecTV dealer in La Grande, to offer special rates for those who would have been hardest hit by a shutdown, according to Young, who called him a "hero."

West's Eastern Oregon Satellite and Wireless was ready to assist low-income households and businesses with multiple TVs, such as hotels, motels and Wallowa Memorial Hospital.

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