A Year in Review: A look back on July, August and September
Published 7:51 pm Thursday, December 30, 2021
EDITORS NOTE: This is the third of a four part series looking back at the year 2021 in Troup County.
SENATOR JON OSSOFF VISITS KIA GEORGIA IN WEST POINT
Sen. Jon Ossoff visited the Kia Georgia plant in West Point to discuss the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act with members of the press in relation to the semiconductor shortage that plagued the American auto industry over the past year. The plant shut down in May for two days due to concerns over the shortage.
OLDEST KNOWN BOTTLE OF WHISKEY LINKED TO LAGRANGE SOLD FOR $110,000 AT AUCTION
The world’s oldest known bottle of whiskey, bottled in LaGrange in the late 1800s, was auctioned off in Boston as part of the Skinner Auctioneers Rare Spirits online auction. Its estimated value at the start of the auction was $20,000 to $40,000, which it surpassed by $70,000 by the time the auction concluded on June 30.
GRAND HOTEL IN HOGANSVILLE REOPENS FOLLOWING EXTENDED CLOSURE
After decades of closure, the historic Grand Hotel in Hogansville reopened for business in July.
LAGRANGE MAN RETURNS LIBRARY BOOK AFTER 30 YEARS
LaGrange resident Kevin Littlefield finally returned a history book he checked out around 1985. Littlefield faced no fines for the overdue book and the book is now being kept in safe-keeping by the LaGrange Memorial Library.
FIREFIGHTER ALLEGES COUNTY RETALIATED AGAINST HIM AFTER HE SHARED CONCERNS
A whistleblower complaint filed in Troup County Superior Court Tuesday alleges that firefighter Clayton Bryant was retaliated against by the county for information he shared with his superiors about alleged problems within the Troup County Fire Department. Bryant submitted a 10-page complaint to the county in March, alleging inappropriate comments made by Fire Chief John Ekaitis about an incident where firefighter Jordan Johnson was injured in recruit school and allegedly told not to seek medical treatment. The complaint was the center of a third-party investigation led by investigator Frances Clay and resulted in Ekaitis’ being suspended for two weeks.
TRAVIS TRITT ROCKS OUT SWEETLAND
County music star Travis Tritt started off Sweetland’s concert series.
MASKS BECOME OPTIONAL AT TCSS
Masks officially became optional at TCSS, though they were still highly recommended by staff. Safety precautions, such as bus sanitation, were added to TCSS’s safety plan.
JUVENILE COURT, LPD TEAM UP FOR PROPOSED FAMILY CRISIS PROGRAM
In an effort to help alleviate calls between in-crisis families for the LaGrange Police Department, the Troup County Juvenile Court has proposed a response program, called the Early Response Program, that will target families in LaGrange that may be at risk for prolonged law enforcement intervention. The program has since been approved and funded by the city.
BEETV FOUNDER APRIL ROSS BUYS LOCAL TV STATION
Facebook Journalist April Ross bought the channel 33, WJCN television station licensed to LaGrange this past summer. The station was previously owned by Peter Mallory, who was convicted of 64 counts, including sexual exploitation of a child, invasion of privacy, and evidence tampering in 2012. In an ironic twist, Ross’ father used to do yard work for Mallory while she was in college
VACCINE WORKS EVEN IF YOU GET SICK, SAYS EXPERT
At a time where the Delta variant of COVID-19 was causing alarm, local health experts clarified that those who received a COVID-19 vaccine were still at risk at becoming sick. However, their symptoms would be minor than the unvaccinated.
COUNTY REMEMBERS ENGLISH, WHO SERVED ON TROUP COMMISSION FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS
August got off on a sad note with the death of Commissioner Richard English, who served the county for over 40 years. Memorials and tributes would be dedicated to English in the following months of his passing, and five candidates came forward to earn his seat when a special election was called.
FIRE CHIEF, EKAITIS, STEPS DOWN DUE TO HEALTH CONCERNS
Troup County Fire Chief John Ekaitis announced his resignation from the Troup County Fire Department on Tuesday. Ekaitis, who remained fire chief until Oct. 1, cited serious medical issues and a high level of activity involved with his work as reasons to step down. Ekaitis’ said his decision was not related to the recent investigation ongoing in the Troup County Fire Department or a whistleblower lawsuit that came from the investigation.
CITING WORSENING NUMBERS, TCSS REVERSES COURSE, APPROVES MASK MANDATE
The Troup County School System voted to require masks for students at the start of the school year, a reversal from a decision in July that allowed mask-wearing to be optional.
TROUP COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE INVESTIGATING BODIES RECOVERED AT WEST POINT LAKE
The Troup County Sheriff’s Office investigated the circumstances around two bodies found at West Point Lake in a two-day period. The first victim was identified as Marcus Lee Caswell, 46, of Newnan, the second as Travis Michael Lodato, 31, also of Newnan. An arrest was later made for both murders. TCSO later reveal that both victims suffered from a single gunshot wound to the head.
BRYANT, MOORE SHARE DETAILS OF NEW CRIME BOOK
Clay Bryant, a homicide detective and published author, released his book detailing the murder and subsequent journey to obtain justice for Hogansville native Gwendolyn Moore. At a book discussion at Pretty Good Books in August, Moore’s son, who was 14 when his mother was killed, shared how Bryant’s efforts not only helped him find personal peace, but justice peace for his mother.
‘JUST NEVER GIVE UP’: TROUP ALLSTARS RALLY FROM BIG DEFICIT TO WIN DIXIE BASEBALL WORLD SERIES
Troup County Allstars represented Georgia in the Dixie Baseball World Series in August and ultimately won the game.
THREE TCSS SCHOOLS SHUTTING DOWN ON THURSDAY AND FRIDAY AS COVID-19 CASES RISE
Three Troup County School System schools were closed for two days due to increased spread of COVID-19. The schools later reopened. At the time, there were 116 total student COVID-19 cases at TCSS and 21 employee cases.
GOV. KEMP CAMPAIGNED IN LAGRANGE
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp visited LaGrange in August for a meet and greet as he continues his 2022 re-election campaign around the state. Kemp, a Republican, sat down with The LaGrange Daily News for an interview following his speech and was asked specifically about the unemployment rate and how local businesses, such as restaurants, continue to struggle to find employees.
MORE THAN 90 PERCENT OF WGMC COVID PATIENTS ARE UNVACCINATED
As Troup County continued to experience a spike in COVID-19 cases this past summer, more than 90 percent of COVID-19 patients at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center were reported to be unvaccinated. on Monday. In late-August, there were 78 total hospitalized COVID-19 patients at WGMC, per the data released Monday, and 96% of them were unvaccinated. Out of the 78 patients, only three are vaccinated.
CHERIS ENGLISH, WIFE OF THE LATE COUNTY COMMISSIONER RICHARD ENGLISH, PASSES AWAY
One month after her husband Commissioner Richard English, Jr. passed away, Cheris English, a former school teacher, passed away as well.
WEST POINT CUTS OFF POWER TO DISRUPT ‘UNPERMITTED EVENT’ — ONE FAMILY SAYS OUTAGE RESULTED IN EMERGENCY FOR COVID-19 PATIENT
The City of West Point has apologized after it cut off electricity to approximately 35 structures Sunday to disrupt a public gathering that was blocking city streets. West Point resident Aniya Cofield was one of the residents who lost power. Cofield is oxygen for COVID-19 related pneumonia and allegedly recieved no warning that the power was going to be cut off. Cofield’s husband later said he had to call an ambulance to bring Aniya oxygen.
BOMB THREAT INVESTIGATED AT LAGRANGE HIGH SCHOOL
The LaGrange Police Department investigated a bomb threat at LaGrange High School in September but found no validity to it. There were several messages posted on an account named “lagrangesucks,” with one saying “LaGrange High School in LaGrange Ga will burn today.”
ALABAMA FINDS TWO OF THREE MISSING RINGS, CONSIDERS LAWSUIT AGAINST CALLAWAY GARDENS HOTEL
An Alabama woman who lost three rings at Callaway Gardens in July later located two of the three rings. The woman, Erin Ward, said the rings were pawned at Express Pawn in LaGrange in early August by who she believed were staff at Callaway Gardens at the time she lost the rings. After expressing displeasure with the way the incident was handled by Callaway Gardens, Ward said she was considering a lawsuit against the resort.
TCSS SAYS COVID CASES ARE GOING DOWN
The Troup County School System reported lower COVID-19 cases among students and staff in September. At the time, the school system reported that a total of 133 students had a positive case of COVID-19, which is nearly half of the reported cases of 220 the week before.
TROUP COUNTY PURCHASES NEW, PERMANENT MORGUE IN RESPONSE TO DEMAND FROM PANDEMIC
Troup County purchased a new, permanent morgue space due partly to the increased number of COVID-19 related deaths across the county and state.
The new facility was installed and housed at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center. The installation of the 10×10 walk-in cooler has the capability to store up to 15 bodies.
14-YEAR-OLD ARRESTED FOR SCHOOL SHOOTING THREAT AT LHS
A 14-year-old student has been arrested for making a shooting threat at LaGrange High School. The juvenile was charged with making terroristic threats and disrupting a public school.