Minnesota county installs pay phone in government building

Published 6:19 pm Monday, August 21, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — An eastern Minnesota county has installed a pay phone in its government center.

The landline was installed this month in Minneapolis following Hennepin County staffers’ persistent requests to install one.

“We want to help the public who may not have access to a cellphone,” said Christine Mlinarchik, a facility operations manager for the county. “It was a no-brainer for us.”

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Three pay phones in the buildings were removed during remodeling two years ago. Since then, staffers have routinely received inquiries about the pay phones.

Joan Turpin, who has worked at the government center’s central information desk for a decade, said people often ask about a pay phone because they need to call for a ride.

“We didn’t think the phones were coming back,” Turpin said. “There is really more of a need than people think.”

The phone is located on the building’s ground floor in an area that sees a high level of traffic from Sheriff’s Office employees, building security workers and people headed to a nearby cafe or City Hall.

The county paid less than $100 for the installation and will pay $40 a month for service. The pay phone accepts credit cards and charges 50 cents for local calls. It can also place collect calls.

More than 95 percent of Americans owned a cellphone by 2011, according to the Pew Research Center. AT&T and Verizon recently stopped producing pay phones because demand became so low.