The DeKalb County Commission heard from DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden and DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Jason Barnett concerning safety in local schools at Tuesday’s meeting.
Commission President Ricky Harcrow asked the two to speak on what is being done to prevent active shooter and other dangerous situations on county campuses.
“Even though it’s not happened with us, it very well could happen to us, and so we wanted them to come and give us a brief overview of how they are handling these particular things,” Harcrow said.
Barnett said their primary focus has been “securing the perimeter” of the schools and having one or two central entrances for anyone visiting. Barnett said the project of constructing these secured areas in each school should be completed in the next six weeks. The School Resource Officer program is another deeply important aspect to keeping the schools safe, he said.
“I think we have one of the best SRO fleets that we could have right now,” Barnett said. “It’s just getting better as the days go by so I’m really pleased with that.”
Welden said the sheriff’s office, board of education and the commission all have “a great working relationship” and have the same goal of protecting the students.
“We’ve put our youth first in everything we’ve done at the sheriff’s office and in cooperation with the board of education,” Welden said. “Dr. Barnett’s been fully supportive of our ideas. We got out and raised money and purchased a K-9 for the schools in DeKalb County and not just the schools in DeKalb but the Fort Payne City Schools.”
The SRO program has expanded in the last few years to now allow an officer to be present in every school in the county, he said.
“We have an SRO on every campus and we also have a supervisor that roves throughout the county. So, we have an additional SRO basically at any given time to help cover every single campus. But, we went a little further and went to a FirstNet Communication System.”
FirstNet is an automatic communication system used within the schools that allows direct contact with schools that connects every SRO and responding officer with the needed information for a quicker response time, Welden said.
Harcrow pointed out that many neighboring counties only have three to five officers to work the entirety of the county’s schools and DeKalb is fortunate to have such a successful program.
County Administrator Matt Sharp said it was by hard work from the commission and the board of education that made this possible.
“To carve out monies for that, it says a lot for Dr. Barnett and Mr. Harcrow for doing that,” Sharp said. “We could spend money in other areas but they have looked at the safety of school children to be a priority and Sheriff Welden has been right in there with it.”
Barnett said anyone on a school’s campus that feels uneasy about a situation can put a school on lockdown, evaluate the situation and contact authorities. Barnett and the commission reiterated to report any “odd” behavior exhibited at any school.
Luther and Billie Townson Day
At Tuesday’s meeting, Harcrow presented a resolution to a local couple that recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.
“For accomplishments that they have, their children are here with them today, 71 years is quite an accomplishment and to say the least, is very rare in this day in time in which we live.”
Luther and Billie Townson started dating in Sept. 1947 and married July 4, 1948. The two were asked what are the keys to a successful marriage and said, “staying true to their vows and trusting in the Lord.” Harcrow declared August 13 as Luther and Billie Townson Day in DeKalb County.
The commission also:
• approved the ER Funding Agreements from County Roads 835 (Old 35) and 85.
• approved speed limit resolutions for County Road 835, which is now set at 20 mph and County Road 126 that is now 35 mph.
• approved to send two damage claims to the county’s insurance carrier. Sasha Herrin filed a claim that the windshield of her vehicle was busted by a rock that was thrown by a bush hog in District 3 and Christy Hall reportedly hit a tree limb that was hanging in the roadway on County Road 27 near Sylvania Gap in District 4.
• awarded the resurfacing project on County Road 116 to Wiregrass Construction for $1,167,917.75 and the county’s match will be $233,583.59.
• approved the following personnel changes at the sheriff’s office: resignation of Sebastion Gamez from full-time corrections officer, termination of Tabitha Franklin from full-time corrections officer, transfer of Bo Cagle from part-time to full-time SRO, transfer of Bary Bowmen from part-time courthouse security to part-time SRO, transfer Thomas Underwood from part-time SRO to part-time courthouse security, resignation of Howell Nash as part-time investigator and deputy.
• approved the following trainings for the sheriff’s office: Investigator Scott Tarrant to LECC Conference Aug. 28 to Aug. 30, Chief Investigator David Davis to ROCIC Annual Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas Sept. 8 to 11 and Public Information Officer Tyler Pruett and Chief Deputy Brad Gregg to ACCA Conference.
• approved to distribute Drug Task Force vehicles to the following parties: 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2009 Dodge Caravan and two 2009 Ford F150 to the City of Fort Payne, 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe 2010 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2011 Chevrolet Impala and 2013 F150 to the District Attorney’s Office, 2005 BMW sold at auction and money distributed.
• approved to hire Judy Jones to replace Maria Garza at the Collinsville Senior Center.
• nominated District 4 Commission Lester Black as the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments.