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City to change phone services

The Greenville City Council voted Monday to change its phone service to locally based company, Camellia Communications.

Mayor Dexter McLendon told the Council that a committee of three was named to study the changeover.

Heading the trio was Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram who told the Council a switch to Camellia would mean savings.

&uot;Based on our current charges for local phone service through CenturyTel, changing to Camellia Communications would save the city $7,882.68 per year,&uot; he said.

&uot;We had several meetings with both Camellia Communications and CenturyTel during this process.&uot;

Also, the city’s long distance carrier, Delta Com, charges the city 9 cents a minute for usage.

Camellia Communications would charge 5 cents per minute.

Ingram told the Council that Camellia would also furnish for $400 per month citywide digital subscriber lines (DSL) to all city departments.

&uot;We believe this will enhance our email capabilities and improve communications between departments,&uot; he said.

He said a big sticking point in the race to be the city’s provider, Camellia Communication would only charge $1,320 per year for maintenance while CenturyTel at a renewal rate would charge $2,899.08 per year.

Camellia Communications will also provide a toll free number for the police department so people can call and report information on crimes, drug activities and underage drinking.

The number once in place will be 1-866-473-8477 or 866-GPD-TIPS.

Camellia’s proposal also includes 26 16-button telephones and a main switchboard and a system-wide upgrade.

After telling the Council of its findings, Ingram said the committee unanimously recommended that Camellia Communications be the city’s local and long distance provider.

Councilman James Lewis expressed his concern on the long distance rate being so low and it going up later.

Marsha Rice, sales manager told Lewis that she believed any future increase would be small.

&uot;We don’t see any indications of future increases,&uot; she said.

&uot;In fact, we may even see a decrease based on past indications.&uot;

The mayor called for a motion on the deal and a second and with all members present agreeing, Camellia Communications became the city’s new phone company.

In other business, the Council agreed to sign a five-year contract with Coca Cola Bottlers as the city’s official soft drink distributor for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Councilman Tommy Ryan asked about the contract length and Mayor McLendon said it was standard practice.

&uot;They spend some money on scoreboards, lighting and they even give us the ice machines,&uot; he said.

The motion passed.

Private property that has weed and debris overtaking was also on the Council’s agenda.

Property owned by Eddie Coleman on South Perry Street will be cleaned again.

McLendon said Coleman already owes the city $750 for clearing the lot five times since 2000.

The property owned by Alfred Lee Randolph Sr. and Annie Jewel Stone Randolph at the corner of Church and Parmer streets will also be cleared.

Liens will be put on the properties so that they cannot be sold until the city is paid for its services.

The next meeting of the Council will be held on Monday, March 7, 2005 at 5:30 p.m.

This meeting was originally scheduled for March 14.