An Etowah County task force that grew from discussions immediately after the mass shooting of school children and personnel at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14 met Wednesday to begin the business of shoring up security at local schools.
Etowah County Circuit Judge Allen Millican said the meeting Jan. 2 was a preliminary step – the first of many steps – in planning security improvements.
Millican said a lot of information is needed, including assessing the schools and the costs of the any recommended changes.
Many people have an interest in the issue – from superintendents and principals to police chiefs and mayors and county officials, he said, and the task force will work to include everyone.
“I called this meeting to make sure that the people who are responsible for your children are at the table,” Millican said.
“All concerns will be heard and all ideas will be explored. Everyone is on the same page; our children come first.
“A lot of information is needed,” the judge said. “There are a lot of schools and we need plans for each school. We need cost assessments and we need to know what resources are available.
“We have to get an idea of what is needed and where to start,” Millican said.
Those in attendance established the priorities of the task force, according to a statement from Etowah County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Natalie Barton, which include conducting a risk assessment and a cost estimate that meets the associated needs.
Task force members plan to complete the evaluation and present a plan of action to the Etowah County Commission and Etowah County’s state delegation in the near future.
“The members of this task force have listened to the concerns of teacher, students and parents,” Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin said. “We appreciate their concerns and will certainly take them into consideration as a plan develops.
“We will reach out to the community and will not exclude anyone. Officials in each municipality will be reached out to in the coming days,” Sheriff Entrekin added.
“I appreciate these folk taking time to make the safety of our children a priority,” Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp said. “I am very pleased with today’s meeting and I think that we made significant progress.”
Individuals in attendance include: Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Ed Miller, Attalla City Schools Superintendent David Bowman, Etowah County Board of Education member Tim Langdale, Etowah County Commission President Jeff Overstreet, Presiding Circuit Judge Allen Millican, District Attorney Jimmie Harp and Sheriff Todd Entrekin, according to Barton’s statement.
Task force members will meet again on Jan. 22.