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Ludowici looking at providing public defenders

The Ludowici City Council decided during its Dec. 9 meeting to accept bids from prospective attorneys to provide legal counsel for defendants appearing in city court.  
Court clerk Cindy McClelland told council members that the city needed to establish an indigent defense system to provide legal counsel for those appearing in court who can’t afford to obtain an attorney. City attorney Katie Smith said the city has been required since 2005 to provide this service, but few defendants requested it. She said that even though the services have to be paid by the city, a court-cost program could be established to pay for the service. She said that currently, an attorney has agreed to cover cases in which counsel is requested for $50 for a minor charge and $200 for a major charge.  
After a brief discussion, council members decided that the city will accept bids for a service contract and also establish a court-cost program fund.
Long County Commissioner Dwight Gordon asked council members to consider funding one E-911 dispatcher if the location of the main office is moved from Darien into Long County. He said the annual fee to fund the center in Darien costs citizens $140,000-$160,000 annually, and he believes that the service needs to be moved into Long County.
Gordon also said that despite the original agreement being to use employees from Long County, that isn’t what is taking place. He said the county hopes to have a public-safety building built so the office could be placed in it.
“There are no (Long) county employees down there employed that I know of … some have been there, but haven’t stayed,” Gordon said.
Commissioner Gerald Blocker, who also attended the Dec. 9 meeting, said outlying residents of Long County who currently have either a Hinesville or Glenn-ville address need to contact their cellphone carriers and request that their service charges go to Long County. He said that Liberty and Tattnall counties currently are receiving these funds, and that most people who live in these areas are not aware of this.
Also at the meeting, Revis Boyd requested that the police department do more patrolling in the city and less stationary-traffic monitoring on Highway 84. He said that he also has seen some police officers violating traffic laws, and that this needed to stop. Mayor James Fuller said that he will get with the police chief and look into his allegations.
The council also approved their 2015 budget. Estimated revenues and expenditures for the year are $1,237,539.
Councilman Mary Hamilton announced that the first Martin Luther King Jr. parade will take place Jan. 10. For more information on the parade, call 912-302-4249.

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