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School safety discussed

Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc.

During the regular meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday, Feb. 28, the topic of school safety was discussed. In light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Fl., Sheriff Ben Stewart addressed the Board with some of his thoughts on the subject. “We will do what we can do, but there is no 'silver bullet' that will solve this issue,” said Stewart. “It will be the community that solves [school shootings].” There are several suggestions being considered by the Florida Legislature to address the issue of school shootings. In addition to new gun control legislation, lawmakers have proposed placing School Resource Officers (SROs) at every school. According to Stewart, the Madison County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) currently has two SROs for nine schools within the school district. Stewart had no objection to adding SROs if the Legislature would provide funding for those extra positions.

“It sounds like another unfunded mandate,” said Commissioner Ronnie Moore.

Another suggestion that has been made is allowing teachers to become trained and to conceal and carry firearms in the classroom. This notion has become controversial, with debate on both sides of the argument. Stewart said that he personally did not feel that arming teachers was a very good idea. Making reference to his own law enforcement training, Commissioner Rick Davis raised his own reservations on the notion of arming teachers and the risk of a student gaining possession of the teacher's firearm. “[A] gun belongs to whoever wants it the most,” said Davis.

The Commissioners approved three budget amendment requests as part of the consent agenda.

The Commissioners approved a contract extension with Jenkins Painting for road striping within the county.

In response to a citizen request that meetings be recorded and posted on the county's website, County Coordinator Brian Kauffman presented a proposal from Music Masters Pro AV Systems Group for two different audio/video recording systems. These proposed systems were based on the system that Music Masters has put in place for Suwannee County. One of these systems carried a price tag of $41,191 while the other proposed system had a $48,844 price. No action was taken at this time. The Commissioners will continue to explore options.

There was an update on Building Department online permitting. The Building Department is in the process of improving interactivity of the department's web-site in order to improve customer convenience.

There was discussion regarding a Soil and Water Conservation agreement. Currently, there is an interlocal agreement to allow for a clerical position at 16 hours per week. It was requested that this position be extended to 40 hours per week. This position is paid by Soil and Water Conservation through the State. The Commissioners approved this request.

The Commissioners also approved a request by the Emergency Medical Services Department to surplus three vehicles. Two would be used in lieu of payment, and one would be given to the MCSO. Lisa Jordan also shared with the Commissioners a letter she had received from a citizen who had utilized the services of the EMS department. This citizen had suffered a heart attack and had called 911. The citizen was very complimentary of the professionalism and the care he received from John and Jerrod from the EMS department. “We don't get too many letters like that. It's nice when people get recognized [for good work],” said Commissioner Davis.

The next meeting of the Madison County Board of County Commissioners is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, at 9 a.m. The meeting will take place in the meeting room in the Courthouse Anex, located at 229 SW Pinckney St., in Madison.

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