By Shannon Taylor
Martin Post Associate Editor
A Dresden commissioner was honored for his service to the county earlier this week. Charlie Curtis, Deputy Director Tennessee County Commissioners Association, (CCA) presented WC Commissioner James Westbrook with an honorary award from the CCA in recognition of continued, exemplary service to the citizens of Weakley County and the State of Tennessee when the Commission met for its quarterly meeting Monday evening.
“There’s not another person in this state that’s done more to make County Government run more efficiently than Jimmy Westbrook has over the years. He’s been a blessing, not only to this county, but this state,” Curtis said.
Westbrook thanked everyone present for the award.
“I appreciate everyone who voted for me,” Westbrook stated.
A resolution, #2024-16 concerning the Weakley County Schools budget was recently tabled at a prior Finance, Ways & Means Committee meeting to wait to hear from Weakley County Director of Schools, Jeff Cupples. A special-called FWM meeting took place prior to Monday’s CC meeting to discuss the numerous questions that were raised regarding the resolution, which involves StaffEZ. StaffEZ is a professional educational-staffing recruiter company, which would recruit substitutes for the Weakley County School system.
The contract would be a short-term contract, what Cupples coined a “pilot,” because the System would use StaffEZ for a semester to see how it works.
The cost would be approximately $27,000 annually and for the rest of this semester’s budget, $12,000 would need to be moved to the fund to cover the expense.
“With our timeline, we really would like to start in January so we can try this. Right now we’re running at about 86 percent fill rate on our substitutes. StaffEZ is running over 95 percent or better. The key thing for me in trying to improve the substitute positions in our county is that they can get benefits as a full-time employee through StaffEZ, where we would not offer that in a school system. If they’re not working full-time, they continue everything as-is, but if they want to go full time, they get incentive pay and bonus pay for the more days and jobs that they take,” Cupples explained.
Cupples said that it was an opportunity for substitutes to get benefits that would not have it otherwise. The resolution was approved unanimously.
During the FWM Committee meeting prior to the County Commission meeting, Weakley County Sheriff Terry McDade brought up the issue of a new law taking place Jan. 1, 2024, regarding inmates working in the community.
“Anybody that is incarcerated that we let out to work has to be accompanied by an armed officer or they have to wear a GPS. I don’t have that many officers, so if anybody is going to be wanting an inmate, they have to have a GPS on which is $3.80 per day if it’s active. If it’s not active, it doesn’t cost anything,” McDade said.
The law change took place due to two inmates escaping from Anderson County last year, according to McDade, which created the need for either an armed officer or a GPS device on all inmates performing work in the community.
The board voted unanimously to raise the issue of who pays for the inmates GPS through the proper county committees of Public Works, HEED, and FWM.
The next regularly-scheduled meeting of the County Commission will be Monday, Jan. 22, 2024.