Year in Review: A look back on January, February and March 2021
Published 9:54 am Tuesday, December 28, 2021
EDITORS NOTE: This is the first of a four part series looking back at the year 2021 in Troup County.
TROUP COUNTY RUNS OUT OF INITIAL VACCINE APPOINTMENTS WITHIN HOURS
The Troup County Health Department announced Monday, Jan. 11, that it was taking COVID-19 vaccination appointments for Troup County. Shortly after 3 p.m. that day, the department announced that all appointments had been booked. In the months to follow, vaccine appointments would decrease significantly and Troup County remains under 50% vaccination rate.
AUTOPSY REVEALS INCONCLUSIVE CAUSE OF DEATH IN NATALIE JONES DEATH
The disappearance and later recovery of Natalie Jones, a 27-year-old mother of two, made national headlines. When her body was recovered inside her hot pink Chevrolet Cavalier in October near Franklin, the nation waited for the results of her autopsy, however, the results were dubbed inconclusive by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.
GBI DEFUSES HOMEMADE BOMB AT EMPTY LOT ON WHITESVILLE ROAD
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Bomb Disposal Unit defused a homemade bomb found at an abandoned lot on Whitesville Road. The bomb resembled a “manufactured, homemade piece of pipe.”
LAGRANGE POLICE CHARGE 16-YEAR-OLD IN ACCIDENT THAT KILLED TRAE COLE
The LaGrange Police Department charged an undisclosed 16-year-old juvenile with homicide by vehicle, reckless driving, violation of a CP license, failure to maintain lane, stop sign violation and driving too fast for conditions in the accident that killed Traveion “Trae” Cole. Cole died in November in a one-vehicle accident after he was ejected from a Chevrolet Trailblazer that overturned several times. A LaGrange High School student and football player. He was 17.
LAGRANGE ALLOCATES FUNDS TO ADDRESS VIOLENCE INTENSE DEBATE
The LaGrange City Council approved over $40,000 in four funding requests to address violence in the city to crime prevention community groups and increased funding for the district attorney’s office by $25,000. Two councilmembers, Mark Mitchell and Nathan Gaskin, voted against the decisions.
Mitchell voiced disagreements with one of the groups’ Facebook platforms and Gaskin voiced disapproval with the DA’s handling of gang prosecutions.
HOGANSVILLE HEARS COMPLAINTS OVER HIGH UTILITY BILLS
Hogansville’s utility rates were brought to light after resident Jake Ayers, who would later run for and win the Hogansville Mayor seat, brought in a $1,400 bill before Hogansville city council. The bill, he noted, was three times its usual rate. Hogansville City Manager Jonathan Lynn, who noted his own bill had been high, noted issues such as water leaks for some residents. Mayor Bill Stankiewicz added that the closing of a MEAG Power and Georgia Power coal-powered plant would contribute to high power bills in the future.
LPD OFFICER RESIGNS FOLLOWING COMPLAIN
Former LPD officer Christian Zubernis resigned from his position following a racially-charged complaint in February. Zubernis who was working as a courtesy officer for The Lofts Apartment and received complaints from two residents who stated Zubernis approached them to remind them The Lofts was a drug-free area and that he would start making arrests if he smelled marijuana.
INMATE AT TROUP COUNTY JAIL DIES AFTER APPARENT MEDICAL EMERGENCY
A Troup County Sheriff’s Office inmate, Raemond Daniel, 46, died after being transferred to Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center with breathing issues. A press release from TCSO said it appears at the time that Daniel suffered a serious medical emergency. The GBI was notified and responded to the Troup County Jail in which they began an independent investigation.
COUNTY SETTLES LAWSUIT
The Troup County Board of Commissioners consented to a settlement for $72,500 for Tiffany Hutchinson, who previously served as mental health coordinator.
The lawsuit said Hutchinson was discriminated against and unlawfully terminated because of her race, her pregnancy and FMLA medical leave that she took to care for her newborn child.
LIBRARY TEMPORARILY RELOCATE TO UNITY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
During the renovations of the library building on Alford Street, the LaGrange Memorial Library is located inside the gymnasium of the old Unity Elementary School. Renovations on the Alford Street location are expected to continue into mid-2022.
CITY CONCERNED ABOUT RELEASE OF VIOLENT OFFENDERS
The LaGrange City Council passed a resolution asking for state officials to study recent methods and trends in the early release of offenders.
The resolution noted that six of the seven suspects identified in murders in LaGrange in 2020 had been arrested an average of 19 times each and combined had been convicted of 25 felonies.
The resolution passed unanimously.
TWO DIE IN WRONG-WAY COLLISION ON I-85
Two men died in March following a head-on collision caused by a wrong-way driver on Interstate 85. The names of the victims were not immediately released.
SHERIFF DISCUSSES HOW TCSO DEALT WITH COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND LITTER
During a Lions Club meeting in March, Sheriff James Woodruff how COVID has caused n issues in the jail in terms of separating and treating infected inmates. At the time, the jail’s inmate population was just over 480. Woodruff also brought up how the jail used inmates that are sentenced for a misdemeanor to pick up trash along the road as part of their sentence in an attempt to alleviate litter issues in the county.
ALL GEORGIANS ELIGIBLE FOR COVID-19 VACCINE, BUT LOCAL APPOINTMENTS NOT EASY TO FIND
COVID-19 vaccinations were booked up to April early this year as more Georgians became eligible for the vaccines. System reboots and data transferring issues caused delays in updating the COVID vaccine dashboard to monitor vaccine numbers.
LAGRANGE, TROUP COUNTY ASSIST COWETA, HEARD COUNTIES WITH TORNADO RECOVERY
The city of LaGrange and Troup County are assisting Coweta and Heard County after a tornado caused significant damage in both communities in late March.
County Manager Eric Mosley estimated about 20 Troup County employees were assisting in storm cleanup between Coweta County and Heard County.
KING BRIDGE RETURNS TO LAGRANGE FOR FIRST TIME IN 56 YEARS
The historic covered bridge built by George King, son of bridge builder and former slave Horace King, is returning home, to LaGrange, after 56 years. The bridge had been located at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain since December 1964.