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Commissioner calls for more resource officers at Dawson County Schools
BOC talks school safety, park projects at first June meeting
School resource officers 2022
Pictured clockwise starting from top left, Dawson County’s current school resource officers are: Lt. Mitch Taylor; Sgt. Josh “Jolly” Rogers; Cpl. Randy Mullis; Dep. Brian Chester; Dep. Rusty Grizzle; Dep. Phillip Cofield; and Dep. Alexis Sutton. Photos submitted to DCN.

During the Dawson County Board of Commissioners’ June 2 work session, District 3 commissioner Tim Satterfield brought up a subject that’s likely been on more parents’ and public officials’ minds lately--school safety. 

Satterfield asked County Manager David Headley about getting in touch with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and the school board to discuss the prospect of more resource officers at the county’s public schools. 

Right now, there’s one DCSO officer for each of the county’s public schools. Satterfield suggested getting at least one additional officer to have a minimum of two per school. 

Given recent events such as the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, dialogue about this topic was not entirely unexpected. 

“Let’s get those [additional] guys and girls on staff and protect our kids,” Satterfield said. 

In a followup statement, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson expressed his office’s full support of measures to reinforce school safety such as assigning more school resource offices and strengthening campuses’ security to protect them in the event of an attack. 

“We have always been a strong advocate for additional officers and am proud to see the support, as presented by Commissioner Satterfield. Unfortunately, tragic incidents such as this are a grim reminder of the evil in this world,” Johnson said, alluding to the Texas shooting. “We pray that their loss was not in vain and that we learn to better prepare and protect our children.”

Johnson reiterated the sheriff office's ongoing working relationship with school officials as they assess campus security measures and responses “to ensure that we are doing all within our ability to protect our children.”

Splash pad bathroom project

After commissioners were stumped on how to build a cost-conscious restroom next to Rock Creek Park’s popular splash pad, a solution came to them. 

During their June 2 work session, the Board of Commissioners voted to accept the Rotary Club of Dawson County’s offer to donate the construction of a turn-key single bathroom at the park’s splash pad pavilion at no cost to the county.

This project’s estimated cost is expected not to exceed $115,000 and take two to three months to complete. 

It will be about 9-by-12 feet and include a single locking bathroom stall and baby changing station. Water and sewer services will be brought from behind the proposed site to tie in with it.

Parks and Recreation Department Director Matt Payne explained that the endeavor will come “at no cost to the taxpayers” and praised the civic group’s previous efforts on multiple big park projects. 

The rotary club likewise paid for the splash pad’s construction and collaborated on that project with Etowah Water and Sewer Authority, Dawson County and Parks and Rec. 

Currently, parents have to leave the splash pad and go across the parking lot when one of their children needs to use a restroom. 

Payne initially spoke to the commissioners about the proposed project at the BOC’s March 17 work session. During that meeting, Facilities Director James Tolbert also pointed out the need for another bathroom given the proximate park playground.

Then on April 7, county commissioners voted to reject the sole bid of $169,883 for the project because of the expense, which would have been financed by a combination of SPLOST VI funds and impact fee funds. 

After that time, the club’s vice president and EWS general manager Brooke Anderson and fellow rotarian Gabe Henderson met with Parks and Rec to discuss the idea. 

Henderson, a licensed general contractor in Dawson County, said the project will probably take two to three months because of supply chain and related issues. 

“I was so excited when I read this [that] I just about landed,” said District 1 commissioner Sharon Fausett. “And the rotary club always does such quality projects…oh, I love it.”