Seen By Kirk
Of Locks, Doors
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Greene County is seemingly no closer to placing armed security guards into elementary and middle schools following Tuesday's meeting of the Greene County Commission.
An armed guard has been in place at each of the county high schools for a number of years, but such guards are not present at the other schools.
On Tuesday, in a nearly-unanimous vote, the commission agreed that any such mandate from the state to have armed security officers in every school should be paid for within the state's budget -- not within the county's.
So far there have been no such mandates from the state, although state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, has said he would like to consider the matter during this session of the Tennessee General Assembly.
The County Commission resolution, sponsored by County Commissioner Robert Bird, was among numerous items on Tuesday's agenda.
The Greeneville City Schools and the Town of Greeneville recently decided to place armed officers in all six Greeneville schools, at least for the present, with the Town paying for their placement.
The meeting, held in the Greene County Courthouse, lasted more than two hours before going into a 45-minute closed session concerning a federal lawsuit. (Please see Thursday's edition for more information.)
Bird summed up his resolution concerning armed guards in a simple statement: "The purpose of the resolution is, if you do it, pay for it."
The county does not need to face another "unfunded state mandate," he stated.
County Commissioner Ted Hensley was the only commissioner to vote against the measure out of the 17 commissioners present for the discussion.
"It's not the weapons; it's not the guns. It's the mind," Hensley said. "We started losing the mind a couple generations, at least, ago, in my opinion, when we took the moral underpinnings and teachings out of schools."
Rather than armed guards and prison-like settings that he said still fail to keep weapons and drugs out of schools, Hensley proposed a start to meaningful change back to "righteousness."
Commissioner Bill Dabbs also agreed that the situation would only continue to worsen until there is a return, he said, to the bygone principles of corporal punishment and beginning the day with prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.
Commissioner Robin Quillen, however, said that she saw the matter differently, noting that she has two grandchildren attending Greeneville City Schools, where armed guards have recently been placed in every school for at least the remainder of this school year.
"I feel so much better during the day knowing that my grandchildren have a police officer stationed at the city schools, and I want no less for the county," she said.
"Those utopic days are gone. We have to face today's reality," she added.
"It's not a beautiful thing to face, but I carry a gun. I would feel a whole lot better, really, if our schools were better protected."
LOCKS HIGH PRIORITY
Commissioner Fred Malone then called on County Director of Schools Dr. Vicki Kirk to give her opinion on having teachers and principals carry firearms rather than placing armed guards in the schools.
While Kirk agreed that the system could ask teachers and administrators if they hold a gun permit, she said she did not believe it possible to compel them to share that information.
Furthermore, she said that she is "not in favor" of arming these individuals, citing a division of duties and lack of training to act as an officer.
She did note, however, that the system is working with the Sheriff's Department to secure the schools in ways such as with working locks and safety entrances.
"There are certain ways that we need to secure the schools in a practical way," Kirk said.
"For me, that is higher on the priority list than armed guards. But we would certainly consider it should the state decide to do it."
In other matters, the commission voted 19-0 to approve budgeting into the EMS budget $11,000 in insurance recovery proceeds from damage by a third party to a Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services Jeep Liberty.
That same unanimous vote came for budgeting $2,500 in insurance recovery proceeds from damage by a third party to a Solid Waste three-quarter-ton service truck.
County Commissioner Anthony Sauceman, who was employed by the Greene County Solid Waste Department after his election, was one of the commissioners voting to approve the resolution.
After the meeting, County Attorney Roger Woolsey declined to give much comment related to whether Sauceman, as an employee of the Solid Waste Department, should legally vote on this matter.B
But Woolsey did say, "I may have been asleep at the wheel on that one."
Numerous other resolutions also received the commission's approval on Tuesday, including:
* making mid-year adjustments to the Greene County School System's General Fund Budget to account for just over $75,000 in increased revenue received from the state, and $10,600 required by the state to be spent from the school system's reserves to cover a shortage in the estimated 2011-2012 tax revenues;
* budgeting $1,980 from automation reserves revenue from data entry fees collected by Circuit Court Clerk Pam Venerable, to be used for her office's maintenance and repair services;
* budgeting $1,500 from the state Farmers Market Promotion and Retail Grant as a contribution to the Rural Resources Mobile Farmers Market of Greene County;
* budgeting a $25 contribution by the First Presbyterian Church to be used for the Greene County Health Department's Home Visitation Program's supplies.
* accepting the official Greene County road list as amended in the 2012 calendar year.
Amendments included closing a .3-mile section of West Seven Springs Road for US Nitrogen and a .09-mile section of Ealey Road for safety concerns related to the new county asphalt plant.
Please see Thursday's edition of The Greeneville Sun for details on numerous other items related to the Greene County Detention Center and the Sheriff's Department.