Ford’s appointees to meet today on school security

State Rep. Craig Ford (D-Gadsden) recently appointed a committee to review security policies and readiness in Etowah County schools.

The committee will meet at 10 a.m. today (Jan. 11) at The Chamber offices.

In the wake of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, local officials mobilized to look at ways to prevent similar events from happening in Etowah County.

As a part of these efforts, Ford appointed a committee of elected officials, educators, law enforcement officers, parents and other community leaders to examine security issues in our schools and make recommendations for improvements.

“This issue is so important that we need to involve everybody, not just a few elected officials,” said Ford.

“It’s time that we have an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ discussion of how we can realistically protect our children and preserve our schools’ integrity.”

Ford announced last month that he would appoint a committee of non-elected officials to work alongside the county’s task force to come up with a plan for school security.

“There’s no easy solution to this problem, and that’s why we need to include ideas and opinions from members of every aspect in our community,” said Ford.

Ford asked a group of key officials to serve on the committee in an ‘ex-officio’ capacity, including some of the officials who serve on the county’s school security task force.

These officials include Etowah County Board of Education member Tim Langdale, Etowah County Schools Superintendent Alan Cosby, Gadsden City Schools Superintendent Ed Miller, Attalla City Schools Superintendent David Bowman, City of Gadsden Police Chief John Crane, City of Attalla Mayor Larry Means, Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin, Etowah County District Attorney Jimmie Harp and J.K. Weaver Technical Center Director Tony Reddick.

“I selected this group of officials to advise the committee because they represent an array of aspects in local government,” said Ford. “They can bring insight on how schools, law enforcement, and administrators actually operate and how we can best implement our plans in the county.”

Other appointees to Ford’s committee include J. Holland, Max Dover, Alabama Defensive Pistol Academy Director Matt Sims, former Board of Education member Andy Gardner, School Resource Officer Supervisor and D.A.R.E. Facilitator Sgt. Lanny Handy, retired educator Charlotte Smith Campbell, JSU-Gadsden Director Ralph Burke, Southside High School Principal Marguerite Early, Gadsden State Security Manager Tim Heard, retired teacher and Gadsden Etowah Head-Start program founding Director Kathryn Barrett, Sharon Thomas, Gertie Lowe, retired teacher Kerry Hicks, Jenny Spencer, retired U.S. Marshall Robert Darnell, Tim Lett, Etowah High School senior Michael Smith and Gadsden City High School senior Rebecca Christensen.

The committee meeting today will open with Ford charging the committee with the goals that he wishes to see accomplished. The committee will then set a formal agenda of business and organize its membership. The meeting will be open to the general public.

With the legislative session convening on Feb. 5, Ford said he wants the committee to immediately begin discussion.

“I want to make sure that we are moving toward a solid and comprehensive solution to this problem before the legislative session begins in February. I will be spending as much of my time as possible to make sure that the committee works to achieve the goals that we set at the meeting.”

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