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Cicero officials hand out cell phones

The town of Cicero is handing out emergency cell phones to senior citizens in the area.

The phones can only be used to make 9-1-1 calls and can be picked up, for free, at the town hall or delivered by calling 699-1414.

The benevolent mission falls in line with a program implemented a year ago by the county's department of aging. Any senior citizen in the county is eligible and hundreds have enrolled already.

Serving such a large area, county officials say, makes it difficult to keep a steady supply of phones available with the increasing number of senior citizens in the county.

"You call and they put you on a list, which means its first come, first serve, which means you might be waiting for while" Councilor Bill Ryback said. "But we handle everybody on a case-by-case basis here, so you can get your phone before anything happens."

Last week Ryback braved a snowstorm so he could deliver phones to two senior citizens in town. Though only a handful of phones have been handed out, Ryback said the demand is quickly picking up, thanks to word of mouth.

"People are realizing this is a good thing to have in case of an emergency," he said.

Town officials say the community response has been remarkable thus far.

"Just last week River Valley Foods dropped off 25 phones because they were upgrading their system," Ryback said.

He said the town is always for looking for used cell phones and is not picky.

"We'll take anything you got, any shape or size," he said. "Any cell phone out there has the ability to call 911, right out of the box."

Ryback said the town is very committed to getting this these potential life savers in the right hands.

"I would hope that anyone who is thinking about getting rid of their phone -- for whatever reason -- to give the town hall a call at 699-1414," He said. You can drop the phones off, or I'll even go to you to pick the em up"

Cicero Supervisor Chet Dudzinski said it was the right, logical course of action. He said a paramount public service is being offered, without dipping into tax payers' wallets.

"This is our way of saying thank you to the people who've made this town what is," Dudzinski said.

Jessica Zambrano, the newest member of the Cicero town board, said she hasn't heard all the facts about the program, but has hesitantly supported the notion nonetheless.

"I'm generally for it," she said. " My daughter and I are contributing ours old cell phones, so yeah, I think it's a good idea.

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