Year in Review: A look back on April, May and June
Published 10:00 am Wednesday, December 29, 2021
EDITORS NOTE: This is the second of a four part series looking back at the year 2021 in Troup County.
KEEPING THEIR DISTANCE: TCSS STAYING 6 FEET APART, DESPITE CHANGE IN GUIDANCE
The Center for Disease Control released new guidance for schools in March 2021, saying that the 6-foot barrier between students could be reduced to 3 feet in cases where everyone is wearing a mask. However, the Troup County School System continued with 6 feet of social distancing. This requirement was relaxed later this year.
TCSS TO GET $29.1 M FROM AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN
The Troup County School System received $29.1 million via the American Rescue Plan Act, part of $3.8 billion the Georgia public schools are receiving. School districts are required to set aside at least 20 percent of the funds to address student learning loss, according to the Georgia Department of Education.
I-85 SHUT DOWN AFTER TRACTOR TRAILER COLLISION CAUSES 40,000 POUNDS OF BEER TO SPILL
A crash on Interstate 85 northbound involved two tractor-trailers and two other vehicles and shut down the interstate for hours. According to an accident report from Georgia State Patrol, one tractor-trailer was overturned and its load, 40,000 pounds of Bud Light beer, was spilled on the northbound lanes of I-85. GSP said there was one injury and that person was transported to the hospital with visible injuries, but they were not considered life-threatening.
WEST POING VOTES TO MAKE JUNETEENTH A CITY HOLIDAY
The West Point City Council voted to make Juneteenth (June 19) a city holiday in mid-April. Juneteenth is celebrated for marking the end of slavery in the United States. Although President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1864, freeing slaves in the United States, the news did not reach Galveston, Texas until June 19, 1865.
DISTRICT 4 PUBLIC HEALTH HAS PLENTY OF VACCINE APPOINTMENTS AVAILABLE
In mid-April, all 12 counties that District 4 Public Health serves, including Troup County, had open appointments this week and next week, a stark difference compared to the month before when vaccine appointments were scarce.
LAGRANGE COLLEGE CUTTING MINORS, MAJORS WITH LOW INTEREST
Following efficiency reviews, LaGrange College removed majors and minors that have shown little interest from students. The college did not publicly release the majors and minors it no longer offered.
REDEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR DAWSON STREET SCHOOL APPROVED
The LaGrange City Council gave final approval to transfer ownership of the historic Dawson Street School to Tammy Finley, a potential developer out of Atlanta.The proposed plan is to develop a pocket neighborhood of approximately 30 new construction, single-family homes as well as 67 detached multi-story units behind the property.
COUNTERFEIT PILLS MAY CONTAIN FENTANYL IN TROUP COUNTY
The District 4 Department of Public Health said that it was receiving reports of overdoses with possible counterfeit pills for several weeks in April. Neighboring counties Carroll, Coweta, Henry, Spalding have begun experiencing overdoses as well. Folden concluded that individuals were buying illegal Xanax or Percocet off the street and the pills were contaminated with fentanyl.
TROUP FIRE CHIEF, OTHER LEADERS IN DEPARTMENT DISCIPLINED AFTER EXTERNAL INVESTIGATION
Following an external investigation, Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis has been suspended for two weeks and two other leaders in the TCFD have been disciplined as well following an external investigation of the department. Kevin Norred, deputy chief of operations, was demoted. Captain Rusty Brown, the training officer, was also suspended. As part of structural changes at the fire department, Michael Strickland, the county’s EMA director, was promoted to deputy chief of administration, training and emergency management.
COUNTY RELAXES MASK MANDATE
Masks were declared to be no longer mandated at county-owned public facilities starting Monday with some exceptions. At this point, all count commissioners were vaccinated.
HOGANSVILLE REMOVES INTERIM TAG FROM SHEPPARD, MAKES HIM THE CITY’S NEW POLICE CHIEF
Jeff Sheppard was officially named Chief of the Hogansville Police Department in May, beating out roughly 10 other candidates. Sheppard was named interim chief in November 2020 after Chief Brian Harr retired, one officer resigned and a third was fired following a third-party investigation into the police department.
THIRD TIME’S NOT THE CHARM? MAN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGEDLY BURGLARIZING TASTE OF LEMON FOR THIRD TIME
A man has been arrested after allegedly burglarizing Taste of Lemon for a third time. The man was already on felony probation after he was convicted of a burglary at Taste of Lemon in 2012. In 2019, he was charged with three counts of burglary at Taste of Lemon, and he’s still awaiting trial in the case. He is currently on probation for the 2012 case and on bond for the 2019 case.
TROUP LAGGING BEHIND OTHER COUNTIES IN VACCINATION RATE
Despite readily available vaccine appointments, Troup County was lagging behind in its percentage of fully vaccinated people compared to other Georgia counties. In May, only 16% of people in Troup County are fully vaccinated, putting Troup among the bottom half of all Georgia counties.
WOODY’S SERVICE CENTER CLOSES AFTER 50 YEARS
A longtime LaGrange business, Woody’s Service Center, closed its doors for good in early May. The business was a staple atop Commerce Avenue since 1970 and kept its charm as the town around it expanded and changed. The business would have turned 51 in July.
FUEL IN SHORT SUPPLY IN TROUP COUNTY DUE TO HEAVY DEMAND; LAW ENFORCEMENT WATCHING FOR PRICE GOUGING
Prices shot up in mid-May after the Colonial Pipeline was cyber-attacked on May 7, stalling many convenience stores from receiving fuel for their gas pumps. For nearly two days, customers around LaGrange and other area cities only had access to premium gas or were forced to pay close to $3/a gallon for regular gas. In Hogansville, the Hogansville Police Department located two gas stations that were reported to be price gouging.
TROUP COUNTY PASSES PROPOSED SDS AGREEMENT
Troup County passed a proposed Service Delivery Strategy agreement, the first domino to fall in a possible end to a saga that extended 10 months.
HOGANSVILLE APPROVES SECOND VOTING PRECINCT
In May, the Hogansville City Council approved a second voting precinct, located at St. Paul AME Church. The precinct was discussed for months and was approved unanimously.
CROCODILE FOUND WAS LIKELY A PET
The LaGrange Police Department, animal control and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources responded to a call about a crocodile found on a creek near Merrybrook Drive in LaGrange in June. In a video taken of the incident by Debbie Ford, an officer can be heard saying that the crocodile is “at least five feet” long and that it was apparently dead. Captain Mike Pheil with the LaGrange Police Department said the crocodile was most likely a former pet that had been dumped upstream.
WARNOCK VISITS KIA
Senator Raphael Warnock visited the KIA Georgia plant in West Point in June and spoke on job development and economic opportunities in the state. Warnock’s visit followed a two-day shut down at Kia Georgia that occurred last week due to a global shortage of semiconductor chips, a needed element in the plant’s vehicle development.
NEW FACILITY FOR ADULTS WITH DISABILITIES CELEBRATES OPENING
The Exceptional Way, a day program that assists adults with mental and physical disabilities, opened its doors in June. To date, the program is constantly full, leading its staff to continue seeking a larger space.
LPD TAKING PROACTIVE APPROACH TO DIRT BIKES
The LaGrange Police Department began taking a stronger approach to dirt bike violators in June. Instead of citations, offenders began to be cited for any violations that they’re involved in. LPD currently sends out press releases related to dirt bike violations.
COFIELD PLEADS GUILTY, WILL SERVE 14 YEARS
In June, LaGrange man Alan Marshal Cofield was sentenced to 30 years to serve 14 in prison for violence he committed against family members on July 9, 2019. Cofield pled guilty to four counts of aggravated assault; one count of aggravated assault, family violence; two counts of cruelty to children in the third degree; two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felony.
17-YEAR-OLD KILLED IN MOOTY BRIDGE ROAD ACCIDENT
John David Stroud Jr.,17, was killed when his 2010 Nissan Titan truck left the roadway and hit a fixed object on Mooty Bridge Road. Stroud was pronounced deceased by the Troup County Coroner on scene.
COVID’S DELTA STRAIN MORE EASILY TRANSFERABLE
The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus began to surface in the summer of 2021. Residents were warned to seek vaccinations and continue safety practices to avoid catching the variant. At this time, only 27% of Troup County residents had at least one dose of the vaccine and 24% were fully vaccinated
WOODRUFF REFLECTS OF COVID OUTBREAK IN COUNTY JAIL ONE YEAR LATER
Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff reported a fewer number of COVID cases in the jail since June 2020. The Sheriff’s Office had a severe spike, over 70 cases, in 2020. At that time, the jail had over 400 inmates.