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Davidson County's expanded local calling plan would cost Denton the most.


Thomasville and Lexington telephone customers could call each other toll free for less than 15 cents a month under a plan before the N.C. Utilities Commission.

Hugh Garringer, an engineer with the commission's public staff, said he will recommend adding 14 cents a month to Thomasville bills, and 12 cents to Lexington's. But the plan would cost Denton callers $3 more a month for local calling access to Lexington.Garringer will recommend those prices to the commission, which meets at 10 a.m. Monday. Commission members also will hear from telephone company spokesmen about the proposal but are not are not expected to make a decision.

Davidson County is one of the state's few remaining counties without toll-free calling from most anywhere in the county to the county seat. Calling between cities can be complicated - and costly - because the county is served by five phone companies and has two area codes.

``This is going to put Davidson County together as a county, finally,' said Stan Bingham, a county commissioner who lives in Denton and who sought an expanded local calling area.

Garringer said Denton would have to pay more for toll-free calling to Lexington because it's a relatively small exchange. If the Utilities Commission approves, the 3,062 Denton customers would be asked to vote by mail on whether local access to Lexington is worth the extra charge. Majority rules.

``Denton controls their own destiny, which they should because they stand to gain the most and have the most need for the service,' Garringer said.

Lexington and Thomasville customers won't get to vote on the plan if it is approved by the Utilities Commission. But the plan could be scrapped if a majority of customers send back protest cards provided by their telephone companies.

Garringer said he doesn't expect the Utility Commission to make a final ruling on the Thomasville-to-Lexington calling plan before the end of the year.


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