Commission Honors Fort Payne Couple
August 15, 2019
Southern Torch (3854 articles)

Commission Honors Fort Payne Couple

By Marla Jones, Managing Editor •

FORT PAYNE, Ala. — The DeKalb County Commission held their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, August 13.

To start the meeting, the Commission proclaimed August 13, 2019 as Luther and Billie Townson Day in honor of the couples 71st Wedding Anniversary,

The couple began dating September 1947 and married July 4, 1948. Billie met Luther at a party on Sand Mountain. They lived in Flat Rock, Ala. for most of their lives and moved to Fort Payne around ten years ago,

When the couple was asked what they believed the keys to their successful marriage were, both agreed, “they stayed true to their vows and trust in the good Lord.”

DeKalb County Superintendent Dr. Jason Barnett and DeKalb County Sheriff Nick Welden gave the Commission a brief overview regarding school safety. 

Barnett explained that safety was a priority for the DeKalb County Board of Education. Construction will be finished within six weeks to secure the perimeter of all the campuses. This will include a vestibule to direct visitors to a centralized location.  

Another measure of safety implemented will be name badges and swipe cards for all employees. Barnett explained that all faculty and staff had the ability and authority to put the school on lockdown, if they noticed something out of the ordinary. 

The new Criminal Justice courses that are offered within the schools are to educate but also enables outside law enforcement into the school. This provides more protection at zero extra cost. 

“The School Resource Officer (SRO) program is one of the greatest investments that we have made.” stated Barnett. The program was started nineteen years ago. At the time, there were thirteen officers funded through a federal grant. After three years, funding was cut. Now, the cost for an officer in each school is $600,000 and the cost is shared between the Commission and DeKalb County Board of Education with no additional funding. 

The agreement between the Commission and the Board of Education, “to carve out money for the safety of our school children, says a lot about Barnett and [President] Harcrow,” stated County Administrator Matt Sharp.

“We have one of the greatest working relationships between the Board of Education, Commission and Sheriff’s Office that we can possibly have,” stated Welden. DeKalb County leads the way with an SRO at every school. The neighboring counties of Jackson and Marshall have three and four respectively to cover their whole school system. 

The Sheriff’s Office has raised money to purchase a K-9 dog for the DeKalb County Board of Education along with the Fort Payne School Systems. 

“We put our youth first in everything that we have done at the Sheriff’s Office, in combination with the DeKalb County Board of Education,” stated Welden. 

The following items were approved by the Commission:

  • ER Funding Agreement for CR835 (Old Highway 35) and CR85, which provides funds for repairs from recent flood damage
  • Speed limit resolutions for the following roads: CR853 (20mph), CR126 (35 mph)
  • Two damage claims to the insurance carrier
  • Awarded the CR116 resurfacing project to Wiregrass Construction in the amount of $1,167,917. The county’s portion is $233,583.
  • Hired Judy Jones to replace Maria Garza at the Collinsville Senior Center
  • Three training sessions for members of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office
  • A request for vehicle transfers from the recently disassembled Drug Task Force

The Commission approved the following personnel changes in the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office:

  • Resignation of Sebastian Gomez as a part-time corrections officer
  • Resignation of Hal Nash as a SRO
  • Termination of Tabitha Franklin as a corrections officer
  • Transfer of Bo Cagle from part-time SRO to full-time SRO
  • Transfer of Gary Bowen from part-time courthouse security to part-time SRO at Collinsville
  • Transfer of Thomas Underwood from part-time SRO to part-time courthouse security

The next meeting of the DeKalb County Commission will be held on Tuesday, August 27 at 10am.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch


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