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Ludowici Council hands off E-911 complaint
Alice Strickland told the Ludowici City Council a break-down in the city and county’s E-911 system resulted in a 20-25 minute response time for an ambulance. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle
At their September meeting on Tuesday, the Ludowici City Council heard one of the first serious complaints about the new E-911 system.
Alice Strickland told council members that on Aug. 31 her father, J.W. Smith, passed out and began having seizures at his home on Mill Pond Road, just outside the Ludowici city border. Strickland, who lives in Jesup, said she called 911 at around 2 a.m., requesting help, but that it took about 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.
“I don’t know what happened, but something happened with the 911 system, and the city needs to look into it and do something…it took almost 25 minutes for an ambulance (to get to my father), and someone’s going to die, if something’s not done about stuff like this,” she said.
Councilman Frank McClelland Jr. said what happened was regrettable, but that the problem appeared to be with the E-911 center in McIntosh County, and not with the city.
Councilman Jim Fuller Jr. added, “This was one of our concerns, with this center, with people in McIntosh County trying to tell responders over here where people lived.”
Long County Commission Chairman Bobby Walker was at the meeting and said the McIntosh/Long County Wiregrass E-911 Center was still relatively new, and that it would take some time to get all the kinks out of the system. He also said Strickland called 911 on her cell phone while she was in Jesup so the call initially went to the Wayne County 911 center, and not to Ludowici Police Department or the Long County 911 center, which is in Darien.
“From when the call was received (at the Wiregrass E-911 Center), someone was at the (Smith) house in nine minutes, according to (Wiregrass E-911 Director) Gail Brasswell,” Walker said.
Though there was much discussion on the matter, no one really could say where the breakdown occurred, but Ludowici Police Chief Richard Robertson said he would work with Strickland to find the problem.
“I understand her concerns, with this happening to her father, and I’ll do all I can to help her. I’ve told her if she wants to come by the police station, I’ll get Gail (Brasswell) on a line with us, and we’ll see if we can figure out exactly what happened,” Robertson said.
On another matter, council voted to fund $15,000 toward the animal control project that the county has implemented.
Walker said, “We’re just making it (animal control) a joint program, tying them (city and county) together.”
According to Walker, now both the city county have animal control, but for the program to succeed, everyone who has a dog needs to make sure that they put a collar on it, with the owner’s name and phone number on the collar.
Walker said if someone sees a stray or loses their dog, they need to call either the sheriff’s office, city police or the commission office.
“We have a good system working, where we are picking up dogs and finding the owners, or if they are a stray we’re taking them to one of our shelters. Documentation is recorded on all of them and we’re even taking pictures of them too. But people need to make sure they put collars on their dogs with contact information,” Walker said.
Following up on her August accusations of the city showing favoritism and practicing nepotism, Ludowici resident Janice Goode went before the group again. During this meeting Goode made the allegation that the council was continuing nepotism and holding illegal discussions under the guise of executive sessions.
“The last hire you made was illegal and I can take you to court if I want to. For that matter, everyone you hire is family,” she said.  
McClelland said, “Well, Janice, the simplest thing you can do is run for election and change the things you don’t like.”
After the meeting, City Attorney Joe Kitchings said, “The city council has the right to hire who they feel is the best person for the job. Nothing that they have done has been illegal, whether it is in the hiring or with what they have discussed in executive session.”
In other business:
• Chief Robertson reported his officers would begin issuing $107 fines to people who walk in roadsways and not sidewalks or on the side of the roads.
• The council approved a five percent pay raise for all city employees.
• The council adopted a water conservation policy.
• The council increased the “grace period” for service disconnect for past due water bills. It has been 15 days after their due date. But now the cut-off date will be after the following month’s meter reading.
• The council hired Elbert Hand, Johnny Fabian and Thomas Brennan to work in the road and maintenance department, and hired Terry Strickland to work at city hall and to read meters.
• The council voted to spend $4,500 to repair the well at the industrial park.
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