One of the issues facing the City of Clarksville in the fallout from the October 4 suicide of Ronald ‘Bo” Ward in City Council Chambers is security.Ward, 60, a popular local businessman and owner of Bo’s Barber Shop on Fort Campbell Boulevard, was denied a zone change for his Madison Street property, a move he believed would be financially devastating for him. He pulled out a gun and killed himself before the Council and an audience of about 50 people.
Mayor Johnny Piper, with full support of the Council, said the present 2nd floor chambers would not be used again and that plans to relocate the Council to new quarters would proceed immediately. Any new meeting place must meet one key criteria: hi tech security in the form of a metal detector.
Piper has been adamant in his statements that no further city meetings will be held in locations without metal detectors. Possible meeting sites include the County Commission chambers or the School Board facilities. The city had already begun a search for large quarters prior to the shooting; no one questions that a return to the scene of the shooting would acerbate the trauma for all involved.
Citing “security for our citizens, security for our elected officials,” the mayor indicated that development of a new facility will move quickly.
Unlike the County Courthouse, City Council Chambers and City Hall do no have metal detectors in place. A sign banning firearms was posted in Council chambers and a police officer was stationed at the meeting, but that did not keep Ward from walking into the meeting with a small handgun in his pocket.
Though Ward tragically turned the gun on himself, it could just have quickly been turned on the Council or the audience, a fact that began to sink in even as the horror unfolded.
On October 7, a young Wisconsin police department employee killed six people for a reason yet undetermined. And not a week goes by that seemingly random, or completely unanticipated shootings claim the lives of the innocent, and often of the shooter as well.
Funeral services for Ward were held Sunday from the Neal-Tarpley Chapel.
It is the new reality, though, that security — the metal detectors, the wands, the searches of bags and briefcases — are so necessary.
The City Council is expected to meet between Oct.10-17 to complete its agenda, but the date, time and location has yet to be announced.
What is certain is that, despite other controversial agenda items including the Peacher’s Mill ‘meandering sidewalk,’ this first meeting will be a subdued Council gathering.