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Whitesville spokesperson questions Bulloch Jail expansion at Commission meeting

    Bulloch County Commissioners voted Tuesday to allow Bulloch County EMS to convey a surplus ambulance to Ogeechee Technical College for use in training EMTs.
    The ambulance, with extremely high mileage, is no longer useful for emergency situations, and EMS has received a replacement for the older vehicle, said EMS Director Lee Eckles.
    OTC’s previous ambulance used in training exercises “fell into disrepair,” he said.  “This is something that is desperately needed. You can’t teach medics to care for patients without an ambulance. They absolutely need this vehicle ... it has  too many miles on it for us.”
    Commissioners voted unanimously to declare the 2000 F350 ambulance as surplus property, therefore rendering it permissible to convey to the technical college.
    Commissioners also voted to accept $14,000 from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority for use in purchasing recycling bins.  In a single vote to accept the consent agenda, commissioners approved contracts for the entertainment and fireworks for the upcoming Fourth of July celebration, a cleaning contract renewal, and a lease renewal for the United States Department of Agriculture, which is located in the Bulloch County Center for Agriculture on Langston Chapel Road.
        
Whitesville spokesperson questions jail expansion
    Whitesville community spokesperson Carrie Howard questioned Bulloch County Commissioners Tuesday about why community citizens were not informed about the Bulloch County Jail expansion.
    Whitesville is a community located inside the Statesboro city limits, between Mathews Road and U.S. 301 North, just northwest of the jail.
    The jail expansion nears completion and Bulloch County Central 911 will soon be moving into a new building adjacent to the jail. Construction has been ongoing for several months now as the jail increased in size, expansions were made to the kitchen shared with the Bulloch County Correctional Institute and the new 911 center was built.
    Howard signed up to speak to the commissioners during the public comment forum at Tuesday’s Bulloch County Commission meeting.
    Representing the Whitesville Community Resource Development Association, Howard brought up “ issues I believe affects us greatly.”
    Her main concern was that the jail was expanded “without notification to (Whitesville) community members.”
    Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch answered Howard’s query afterward.
    “The county had a vested right ... to proceed with the expansion,” he said. There was not a zoning issue, so there was no need for public notice. “It is not typical to notify surrounding neighborhoods” when such construction is done.
    “We believe it’s the duty of any elected official to notify the people ... before erecting any type of business ... in our back yard,” Howard replied.
    Bulloch County Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil reminded Howard there were several county commission meetings where commissioners discussed the project at length, and that the county advertised the project and subsequent hearings. The Statesboro Herald covered these meetings during which the jail expansion was discussed as well.
    “It was not a secret the county was going to expand the jail,” he said.
    Howard complained of disruption to the quality of life in the neighborhood, including construction dust settling upon people and property.
    She also asked commissioners what services they provided the citizens of Whitesville.
    “Roads to ride on, bridges to cross over, law enforcement, judicial support, social services — the list goes on and on,” Nevil said, adding that the services to those in the Whitesville community are the same as are offered anywhere else in the county.
    Howard asked commissioners to submit a letter to her stating how the county commission can help Whitesville.

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