Chattahoochee Chatter: No one is packing heat

May 28, 2014 

Last week's Muscogee County School Board meeting was full of Chatterlicious items.

We'll start with board vice chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1 asking superintendent David Lewis what the so-called "Guns Everywhere Bill" the Georgia Legislature passed this year means for the school district.

"There are a lot more questions than there are answers," Lewis said. "So we're looking for guidance from the Georgia School Boards Association. But, clearly, there are concerns where you have unintended consequences. Things that are written might seem like a great idea at the time. … It is our intention right now that we're going to do nothing going forward. … So at this point in time, until we get more guidance, I won't bring a new policy or any recommendation for changes until we know the implications for all that."

Green: "I guess what I wanted to highlight is that, no, it does not mean that our teachers or principals can bring guns to school."

Lewis: "The law talks about specific personnel, designated persons with specific training. … The last thing I want is the OK Corral. That's one of the issues that can be certainly an issue that we have to address. I'm not opposed to having the right people on campus. People have badges and guns for that. At this point in time, I'm a little concerned about some of the ramifications. When I ask for clarification, the state says, frankly, they're still trying to grapple with that as well."

Green: "That's fine, but still the point is …"

Lewis: "… We do not have teachers, we are not going to have custodians, we're not going to have principals at this point in time, packing heat."

Crowd laughs.

Board chairman Rob Varner of District 5: "Is that clear enough for you?"

Green: "Thank you very much."

•••

These are two who should really familiarize themselves with the laws of the land. Allegedly, of course.

When you're looking for a suspected burglar, check the jail.

That's what Columbus police learned May 15 when they solicited the area news media's aid in finding Reginald Weeks-Lewis, whom they suspect served as an accomplice for Preston Kennedy. Kennedy was implicated in 11 area church burglaries from March 23 through May 12.

Detectives said they believe Weeks-Lewis was involved in burglaries Kennedy's alleged to have committed on March 23, and that's why they wanted him brought in for questioning.

Reporters dutifully relayed the news that anyone who knew Weeks-Lewis' whereabouts should notify Columbus police.

Soon investigators knew exactly where Weeks-Lewis was: He was in the Muscogee County Jail, where he had been since March 23, charged with first-degree burglary, obstructing police, shoplifting and auto theft.

It was the second time that week a suspect got to jail before police could arrest him: Kennedy, too, was already in jail by the time police on Facebook posted surveillance-camera images that allegedly showed him burglarizing Columbus' Evangel Temple, 5350 Veterans Parkway, on May 11.

His bonding company had surrendered him to face charges from an earlier case.

•••

Here's one less restaurant to burglarize …

There is one less place to get an Italian meal in Columbus. Carino's Italian Grill near Peachtree Mall on Manchester Expressway is no longer open for business.

We'll miss the skilletini.

•••

School Board member Athavia "A.J." Senior of District 3 shared concerns she has heard from constituents about the Walmart scheduled to be built at the intersection of Victory Drive and Benning Road, the site of the former Baker High School. It is adjacent to Dorothy Height Elementary School, which is under construction and scheduled to open in August, and diagonally across the street from Baker Middle School.

"We want to make sure that the safety is the main concern for the students as the traffic increases over the next couple of years," she said.

She also mentioned concern about the potential for disturbing noise coming from the Walmart site.

"The back of the building will face the new Dorothy Height Elementary School, thus causing distractions, a bad view, students not focusing on their work because they're watching the trucks coming in and out," Senior said. "So if we can address or look at what distractions or safety concerns that may come from that Walmart coming up, I'd appreciate it."

Senior also suggested putting up fencing around the new elementary school so it isn't "a cut-through" for people walking to the Walmart from neighboring homes.

Lewis replied, "Those are all valid concerns that are worthy of our consideration. We'll certainly work with the city, trying to allay those concerns."

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