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Cell phone users billed in Bulloch to see small increase
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    Cell phone users who are billed at Bulloch County addresses will see a slight increase in their phone bills next year, but most will agree the minor charge is worth the service returned.
    Bulloch County Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve a 50  cents charge added to wireless bills for Bulloch residents. The fee will fund new software than will enable Bulloch County 911 operators to locate callers instead of only being able to identify the wireless towers they are using.
    This will mean increased response time and a more safer response for citizens using their cell phones to dial 911, said Bulloch County Public safety Director Ted Wynn.
    When a caller dials 911 using a wireless phone, the new software, which will bring Bulloch County Central 911 into the second phase of wireless enhanced 911 service, the system will show operators a map pinpointing the location from where the call originates, he said.
    The fee will be 50 cents per phone, not per plan, but will only translate into a $6 annual increase. The fees are expected to generate about $160,000 a year to be included in the 911 budget, he said. The increase from $1 to $1.50 a month per phone will be consistent with the current charges for land line phones, he said.
    “It’s a good thing,” Wynn said. “I’ve listened to the nightmares of not being able to pinpoint where a cell phone call is coming from.”
City/County agreement
    Commissioners also discussed a capital cost recovery fee agreement between the city of Statesboro and Bulloch County regarding areas the city plans to annex in the future.
    Planning and Zoning Director Andy Welch said the county wants to protect the S&S  Greenway Trail and “ensure that the city doesn’t place things along it that would compromise it.”
    The City of Statesboro was expected to address the issue as well Tuesday evening, in preparing for both city and county officials updating the land use plans next year, he said.
    County leaders want the trail to remain a pleasant and attractive trail for bikers and pedestrians and feel the agreement will “minimize interruptions along the greenway trail,” said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch.  He mentioned developments that are planned for areas near the  trail. “I feel ... this area needs to be planned very carefully.”

CASA seeks support
    Phillip King spoke to commissioners about CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), asking for support from the commission including financial support.
    He said there are 47 CASA programs serving 118 Georgia counties, and Statesboro’s CASA office serves as the hub for the four-county Ogeechee Judicial Circuit. A volunteer training center is located at the Outreach Center, he said.
    There are currently 65 children in foster care in Bulloch County served by CASA, which serves as advocates for the children and works closely with the Department of Family and Children Services, he said.
    “CASA is an organization that is trying to make a difference in children’s lives,” he said.
    The organization needs to raise $70,000 for its budget this year and needs larger office space, King said. He also asked commissioners to appoint a liaison from the county to be named to the CASA board “so you’ll know what’s going on with CASA and with children in this county.”
    Bulloch County Commissioner Roy  Thompson volunteered for the position. “Kids don’t ask for  the situation they’re put into,” he said.
    “Thank you for volunteering for this cause,” said Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil. “We sympathize with CASA and the children.”

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