Gordon County Sheriff’s deputies, and other emergency personnel responded to the third school bomb threat in a week Thursday morning, Dec. 17.
Sonoraville High School was put on lock down, and the students were evacuated to the gym until a full sweep of the building could be conducted.
According to Gordon County Sheriff’s Department public information’s office Chief Robert Paris, the building was clear.
The bomb threats that have occurred in the county schools over the past week have not only cost the students instructional time, they have also cost county taxpayers thousands of dollars.
The threat at Gordon Central High School alone cost the county more than $20,000, according to Paris.
“Those numbers are based on the salaries of teacher’s alone; that doesn’t include emergency workers,” Paris said.
More than 16 emergency vehicles were called to the scene at Gordon Central on Dec. 10, along with four fire engines and two ambulances, according to Paris. There were 15 sheriff’s deputies and personnel with bomb sniffing dogs called in from surrounding municipalities.
In total, the Gordon Central threat cost the county just under $2,000 in salary money.
“Those numbers are based on the low end of our salary scale,” Paris said.
Paris also points out that the school had to destroy nearly $2,000 in school lunches.
While Paris cannot firmly say what the other incidents will cost taxpayers, he does estimate that the amount of money spent responding to and investigating the threats is high.
“We are investigating means by which to seek restitution civilly,” Paris said.
But Sheriff Mitch Ralston said that while the dollar rate is high, no amount is too much when it comes to protecting the county’s children.
“These threats are something we have to take seriously,” said Ralston. “Anytime our most precious resource is at stake we must react proactively and do everything it takes to get to a safe conclusion.”
“Nothing in our schools is ever put on the back burner,” Paris agreed.
Paris said that “copy cat” bomb threats have occurred in the past, but have died out on their own.
“But, it is serious. This is very serious and is affecting a lot of residents,” Ralston said.
Ralston said there was no reason to believe the threats were anything more than a prank.
“These certainly are not organized, but we are taking them seriously,” Ralston said.