Anderson County Council approves SRO position for Townville Elementary

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By Stan Welch

Even as visitation was underway for six year old Jacob Hall, who was shot at Townville Elementary School last week, and subsequently died, the Anderson County Council created a position for an additional school resource officer to be hired and on the school premises in time for the resumption of classes on Thursday, October 6.

Councilman Tommy Dunn requested and received a vote to amend the regular agenda under an exemption for emergencies. The Council then voted to approve the creation of an SRO position for the school, where fourteen year old Jesse Osborne shot and wounded three children and a teacher before being subdued by Jamie Brock, a volunteer fireman who responded to the scene.

Prior to the shootings at the school, Osborne shot and killed his father, Jeffrey Osborne, 47.

The Council invoked the emergency exemption to amend the agenda so that the SRO can be on hand when classes resume. The school district will bear the costs of the on premises sheriff’s deputy. School resource officers are seldom used at elementary schools because their main purpose is to interact with the students in order to maintain a sense of discipline in student bodies made up of older students; those more likely to be involved in serious altercations or activities.

The Council also voted to approve the comprehensive land use plan.

Prior to the regular meeting, the Council convened in order to present honors to two citizens of Anderson County. Ms. Johnnie Murphy received the Silver Crescent Award for her 43 years as a mental health care professional. Councilwoman Gracie Floyd approached the legislative delegation some time back to request that the honor, the second highest civilian honor that the state awards, be bestowed on Murphy.

Representative Anne Thayer and Senator Mike Gambrell were on hand for the presentation.

Also recognized with a resolution recognizing her success in being chosen as Miss South Carolina, and subsequently as First Runner Up in the Miss America contest, was Rachel Wyatt, of Piedmont. Wyatt graduated from Wren High School and currently attends Clemson University.

Also on hand to make a presentation to the Council were members of the organization Bikers Against Child Abuse, or BACA. Dressed in denim and leather and do rags, they explained that their organization provides emotional, and if necessary, physical support to abused children.

Working with the child welfare and legal communities, the members identify children who are in the system, often receiving referrals from child welfare organizations. They offer their services to the children in question; and if accepted by the children, they essentially induct them into the BACA “family”, giving each child his own ‘cut’, or biker’s vest, as well as a teddy bear that each BACA member hugs in order to infuse it with love.

They provide an emotional, and occasionally physical, barrier between the child and the potential or acknowledged abuser, and often accompany them to court in order to support them. They are a 501(c)(3) organization, and are totally dependent on donations; but they came before Council seeking nothing more than their assistance in spreading the news of their organization.

Chairman Tommy Dunn, during the citizens’ comments portion of the agenda that is limited to items on the agenda, cut off three citizens during their comments. Rick Freemantle,Mark Powell,and Elizabeth Fant were all gaveled down for their too liberal interpretations of some agenda items, and their use of those interpretations to stray from the permitted points of discussion. All were reminded that a second citizens’ comments section of the agenda comes up towards the end of the meeting for non-agenda items.

Fant seemed especially surprised by Dunn’s actions, since she was actually praising some of the Council’s recent actions.