By BRIAN GRAVES
The Bradley County Commission Juvenile Committee had the chance to meet with the new director and her staff Tuesday morning, and hear about some of the needs of the department.Committee Chairman Bill …
The Bradley County Commission Juvenile Committee had the chance to meet with the new director and her staff Tuesday morning, and hear about some of the needs of the department.
Committee Chairman Bill Winters noted "this is a transition time" for the department with the retirement of longtime director Terry Gallaher and the appointment of Vickie Towne to the head post.
Judge Daniel Swafford began the meeting by thanking commissioners for the job they do, and for their support of the county's juvenile program.
"We have tried to do everything we can without asking for a lot of extra resources," Swafford said. "I think we have been very creative in how we have approached a lot of the new and innovative programs."
Swafford said the department would miss Gallaher, "but I am equally pleased and excited about Vicki coming on board."
"She knows the staff. She knows the department. She knows the families and she is going to do a great job," he said.
Towne then talked about her background, having served in the department for 14 years.
"I love my job and I love my staff here," Towne said. "This place would not run without the staff we have. We have very, very little turnover here. We have people who really give of themselves."
"We want to change kids' lives," she said. "We are all about rehabilitation. We aren't always successful, but I think we are a group of fighters that really fight for these kids and want to make them as successful as they can be."
Towne said with the current epidemic of opioids, the department is "trying to stay on top of things, because kids are smart."
Transitioning into the department's needs, Towne said "we want to stay within what we need to do, but we do have some needs that need to be met so that we're not further down the road and things are coming up as a result of not fixing some things.
"I am the kind of person who wants to look at it now, because if it's going to be costing over and over down the road, we need to fix the issue so we are not paying down the road," she said.
One of those "issues" is the flooring in the main lobby.
Made with cobblestone, the grout between the stones is wearing down, causing a potential safety hazard.
"We had one lady whose heel was getting caught," Towne said. "I start thinking about if somebody falls, and issues of liability."
Changing the floor that will fill in the grouted area will cost an estimated $4,000.
Capt. Andre Carr, who is over the detention center, described some of the maintenance needs at the center.
"I have a lady from the state and every time she comes, the only thing she mentions are the toilets," Carr said. "I've never seen stainless steel rust, but these are rusting. They are getting older."
He said when the building was constructed, the showers were installed in such a way the block wall had to be removed to work on any plumbing. Those showers are now showing signs of wear and leaking.
"What should have been placed there to begin with are push buttons with a timer," Carr said. "You push the button and it runs for five minutes and it goes off."
He said the search is now on to discover what the price of switching to the new showers would be.
"When you get a couple of showers down, that gets to be a problem," Carr said.
He compared the new showers to the type found in campgrounds.
There was no time frame set to act on the requests.
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