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New safe schools commission may be created

Posted: January 4, 2013 5:24 p.m.
Updated: January 7, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Kershaw County School District (KCSD) Superintendent Dr. Frank Morgan and Kershaw County Board of School Trustees Chair Mara Jones are set to address Kershaw County Council Tuesday concerning the establishment of a county-wide safe schools commission. Morgan said discussions concerning the commission’s establishment were tied to December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

Morgan said he hoped any potential commission would concentrate on the entire community and not strictly schools.

“Schools do not operate in a vacuum. Schools are part of the larger community,” Morgan said. “I hope in whatever we do, we look at safety as a community issue, not just a school issue.”

He said the best solutions that result from such tragedies always involve looking at the “big picture.”

“What’s everybody’s part? I’m confident that we can look at this as a community,” Morgan said.

He also noted the school district had recently reexamined all safety procedures and reviewed potential crisis plans.

“One of the things people don’t understand is that we really used to only have fire drills. We have drills for everything now, including earthquake drills, tornado drills, and lockdown drills in case there is an intruder,” he said.

Morgan pointed to efforts by Kershaw County Councilman Jimmy Jones, Mara Jones’ husband, when asked how the initiative was moved forward.

“I appreciate Mr. Jones taking leadership in this,” he said. “I just hope what we look at this as a large picture, community issue.”

Councilman Jones said he spoke with his wife, Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews, and ALPHA Center Director Paul Napper about the possibility of establishing a county wide commission.  

“This commission would assess, evaluate, and study the needs in Kershaw County,” Jones said. “We want to bring mental health in, bring private citizens in, as well as parents and teachers. We want a wide variety of people from the community.”

Jones said the plan would involve creating a commission consisting of nine members who would help establish a framework for ensuring safety in the county.

“That commission would be charged with looking at every possibility,” he said. “They will go out and see if there are any grants and see if there’s any way to provide resources without having to generate additional revenue. I think it’ll be a proactive, not reactive group within our community.”

Other items on council’s agenda include:

•second reading of an ordinance amending the zoning classification of Sun Valley Subdivision in Elgin. The proposal would rezone the property from R-15 (low density, single-family residential district) to RD-2 (rural resource district).

•second reading of an ordinance authorizing the conveyance of real property on Pheasant Walk in Elgin. Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter previously explained that the proposal was related to a “sliver” of property that needs to be paved.

•oath of office readings for recently reelected Councilmen C.R. Miles and Sammie Tucker Jr. and newly elected Councilman Willie Mickel; 

•a funding request from the Kershaw County Mental Health Department to establish a fund to provide additional non-emergency health treatments;

•a construction contract concerning the Kershaw County Lagoon, which serves as an overflow system for sludge at the Kershaw County Waste Water Treatment Plant;

•an award recommendation to provide bunker gear for the Kershaw County Fire Department, including coats, boots, helmets, and other equipment; and

•a resolution honoring Michael Angelo Genova and Bruce Hammond Brutschy for their support of communities and law enforcement in the Midlands of South Carolina.

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