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Commission handles county business

Springtime brings to the county those in search of a myriad of sporting events, many of which are water-based. Upcoming fishing tournaments and tourists desiring a little fun on Norris Lake prompted District 2 Commissioner Bill Keck to discuss ongoing concerns with boat ramps within his jurisdiction.

Keck asked County Mayor Jack Daniels to update the status of the parking lot of what is commonly referred to as the Brogan Hollow boat ramp. He also requested the ‘OK’ to allow residents to ‘fill in’ the potholes along Leather Hollow Road, leading to another public boat ramp inside the district.

“A little over a month ago, when I brought this back up — the reason why I brought it back up — we had a big bass tournament down there. And, officers controlled the crowds (at the Brogan Hollow boat ramp). They did a great job.

“The very next week, the youth had a bass tournament down there that blocked Hwy. 33. There were a lot of people going to work, and the road was completely shut down with people trying to put their boats in,” said Keck.

As for the Leather Hollow concerns, he said he had followed the directives of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) agent and had secured two local residents willing to work on the roadway.

As of yet, Keck said the agent has not given those residents an official ‘OK’ to proceed.

Daniels said he had been in contact with the agent, and that the concerns are being ‘worked on.’

“It’s a money issue,” said Daniels.

In other action, Claiborne County Sheriff David Ray addressed school security.

“I’ve asked every officer that I have to come up with suggestions, ideas and work with the school system to improve our schools.

“This problem exists all over the United States, and it’s nothing new to you or me. It’s a problem, here in Claiborne County, that we can take care of. We will have safe schools in this county. There may be some expense. I don’t know of anything free, these days,” said Ray.

The Claiborne Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team has completed walk-throughs of every school in the county to determine any possible security deficiencies, he said.

“There are things that the teachers can do, and that’s befriend every student that we can, just like the bus driver. Sometimes, a bus driver can find out more than a parent can.

“When a youngster doesn’t have a place to sleep at night, and is still coming to school — those things should be pointed out to law enforcement and to children’s services.

“Those types of people (potential shooters) can be identified. You have a responsibility to say ‘your son is talking about the guns he has at home. Your son is talking about what he did with the rabbit he killed last week.’ That is abnormal behavior. Those are the kinds of things that we have to think about. We need to do it together,” said Ray.

He said it is every citizen’s responsibility to help.

“No teacher should go to school in the morning, wondering if they’re going to be a target,” said Ray.

One way to improve school safety, he said, is the installation of cutting-edge technology at every campus. The latest wave of surveillance cameras allow remote viewing of virtually every foot of grounds, whether down school hallways or in areas like kitchens.

This new technology would allow personnel to sit in the Claiborne Justice Center or the E-911 department and see just what is occurring inside every school, he added.

Ray said he had been in contact with state legislators about proposed tightening of gun control laws.

“I don’t know if that’s the answer. If somebody wants a gun, they’ll get a gun. The kid in Florida was on the internet, looking how to build a bomb before he did what he did and killed 17 people, the next day,” said Ray.

During the last month, he said the county had had more disturbances from ‘copycats’ calling in or leaving notes in and around school campuses. He said those actions force his office to take the challenges as threats.

Social media and the proliferation of cell phones and other devices by students have exacerbated the problem, he added.

Ray assured everyone present that he and Dr. Joseph Miller, director of schools, are working together to update the security protocols within the school system.

Ray helped, some years ago, to create the original security plan of action. He said the initial plan is a good one.

The updated one will be the best possible answer to the recent rash of threats, he added.