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Committee Discusses Grant Funding to Purchase Computers for Courts and Jail


DRESDEN (November 5) — The Public Safety Committee approved a resolution accepting grant funding to purchase new computers for the Weakley County Court syste, during Thursday morning’s meeting at the School Board Conference Room.

General Sessions Judge Tommy Moore explained, due to the effects of COVID-19, Weakley County General Sessions Court has received grant funding under the CARES Act for additional expenditures. He said the grant allocates $6,880 for the Weakley County General Sessions Court to cover the purchase of data processing equipment and a communications contract for two years of service. The equipment purchase amounted to $4,840 and the communications contract cost an additional $2,040.

He stated Weakley County received a total of five of the latest type of Apple computers (iPads) for the local court system through the grant.

Judge Moore stated this is a 100-percent federal grant that reimburses the county for the entire cost of purchasing two large iPads, which have keyboards – one for himself and the other for Chancellor Mike Malone. He stated the larger screens are needed for the judges, because, at their age, it’s harder to read the words.

The grant also pays for three smaller iPads for the following court system employees: Clerk and Master Regina VanCleave, Circuit Court Clerk Jennifer Killebrew and Jail Administrator Candace Winstead.

Judge Moore noted Obion County received the same grant, so Circuit Court Judge Jeff Parham, who serves the 27th Judicial District (Obion and Weakley counties), and Obion County General Sessions Judge Jimmy Smith, both received a large iPad through that county, and their court clerks received smaller iPads.

“We’ve always used Skyping at the jail, but this allows Candace or a jailer to take the iPad to a secure area inside the jail so I can communicate with them,” Judge Moore said. “Since we received the iPads, we’ve been doing all of our arraignments for General Sessions Court at the jail. We no longer bring the prisoners out into the courtroom. That has really saved a lot of time and manpower. In order to bring them into court, they must be handcuffed and leg shackled, for security. This eliminates the risk of prisoners escaping when they’re brought into the courtroom.”

The resolution passed unanimously.

In other business, Commissioner James Roy Pope informed the committee about a rural Weakley County resident complaining of the stench caused by a nearby chicken farm located in the Austin Springs area.

The resident has asked to address the full commission on November 16 concerning the issue, along with a group of people from the area.

Erica Moore, who serves as Communications Director for Weakley County Government, confirmed she has received the message and has placed the matter on the agenda.

“He’s not opposed to the chicken barn, but is opposed to the smell created when they cremate chicken remains in the morning and afternoon,” Commissioner Pope said. “He showed me video of black smoke coming from the chicken farm. I have a hard time understanding it. We have a crematorium in Greenfield and we don’t smell anything there. Perhaps they are not operating the incinerator correctly.”

Pope suggested having the County Commission contact Tyson directly concerning the problem.

“When the resident making the complaint saw that the fans were pointed in his direction, he asked the chicken barn owner, why that was the case, and he replied, “ ‘Why would I want my family to have to smell it?’”

Mayor Bynum stated he spoke to Tyson and they told him they have tried a lot of things to mitigate these issues, but don’t think they can satisfy the property owner. “TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation) representatives came out and had no findings,” Mayor Bynum said. However, he noted TDEC was investigating the possibility of the chicken farmer burning chicken remains outdoors, rather than checking to see if he was burning the chickens in the incinerator properly.

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