MORRISTOWN — A partnership between the town of Morristown and the high school hopes to be a win-win situation for everyone involved, all while solving a recent issue that’s been cropping up.
Community Park has recently been the site of criminal mischief, committed by children who aren’t from the area, Morristown Police Chief Henry Albrecht said, including one in the past month involving one person driving under the influence and someone kicking brand new doors at the shelter. The Davis-Bennett Cemetery, which sits southwest of the park, was also vandalized last August when 22 headstones were damaged.
With the half-mile walking trail around the park and a variety of activities through the Boys and Girls Club attracting local visitors, Albrecht and the town wanted to upgrade the security in the park aside from the deer hunting trail cameras in place.
Town Council member Bill White suggested installing a new video recording system, prompting Albrecht to call Nine Star Connect to see how much it would cost.
He found that it would cost $30,000 to run fiber optics from south of the railroad track to the park. The system itself was $10,000, meaning the town was looking at a $40,000 price tag.
So he looked at other options and turned to Shelby Eastern Schools Technology Director Cody Stewart for help. The two decided the town and Morristown High School could work together to install a new system, hopefully one that wouldn’t lighten taxpayers’ bank accounts as much.
Albrecht also called REMC to buy some power poles that will safely hold the cameras. Through a community grant fund, REMC sold six poles for $100, half the normal price. And the company is sending a volunteer worker to install them Saturday for free.
Stewart also reached out to PCMG Solutions, an information technology provider that he uses for Shelby Eastern. PCMG agreed to knock off $1,000 on the video system, reducing the cost to around $3,800.
“We’re trying to keep the kids safe and trying to keep a new facility, new environment safe and clean,” Stewart said.
Eleven Morristown students in the technology program will be installing 16 cameras later this spring. No date is set for the installation, but Stewart has turned his attention toward preparing his students.
He’s devoting each week to different topics related to the installation process, from learning about the security cameras to wireless networks to setting it up.
“You can only repair so many laptops before you’re like ‘I’m bored. I don’t want to do this anymore,’” he said. “It’s a way for us to expand their knowledge, expand their hands-on experience other than just repairing their own devices.”
The 16 cameras will be placed in important areas to make sure the trail is covered, Albrecht said.
“We don’t want a Delphi (incident),” he said. “We don’t want somebody out there disappearing on us.”
He said the partnership helps both sides.
On one side, the town saves money. On another, it’s an educational opportunity for the technology students. And it helps keep children safe.
“It’s definitely a savings for us, but also it gets the kids involved,” he said. “That park is used a lot by the kids, the Boys and Girls Club, soccer.”
He added that there have been discussions of adding a basketball court in the park.
“I think it’s neat that the kids are helping to protect the area they get to hang out at and have fun,” he said.
The students signed up for the opportunity.
Stewart held off on telling the students about the opportunity until the agreement was a done deal and everything was in place. It’s now all they want to talk about, he said.
“They want to go out tomorrow,” he said on Tuesday. “They’re excited to get the hands-on experience, but not only that, they’re going to be able to see the effort they put forth in their own town.”
SES school board member Jason Redd said he hopes the partnership opens communication between the school and town for future projects.
“Anytime you can get a cooperation between your town and your school, which benefits not only the kids in the community, but when you can do that, teach these kids a trade that they can take with them when they leave school, save taxpayers dollars and save the corporation, it’s a no-brainer,” he said. “It’s a win-win.”
Albrecht is a Morristown alum. When he was a student, everyone joined Future Farmers of America, he said, and they learned through a variety of projects involving welding, building sheds and repairing small engines.
He sees this partnership as a similar learning experience.
“We were picking up skills,” he said. “I think that’s the worst thing about school these days. Kids can’t really get hands-on stuff to do. This is going to be hands-on experience for them.”