ELLIJAY, Ga – Despite numerous weather and climate hurdles including a cold evening sharpened by winds and rain at times, the Downtown Ellijay Business and Community Association (DEBACA) is reporting a very successful year.
With some changes like the absence of the town of Bethlehem that First Baptist Church hosted at last year’s event and added security measures, this year’s event was noticeably different than 2017. Changes that both DEBACA Chairman Steve Cortes and Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey praise as improvements to the event.
One major safety improvement that both parties noted separately was barricades set up to block the parking spaces on the roundabout, allowing pedestrians to safely view both the tree lighting and parade apart from traffic and parade vehicles. While these barricades have been used for the majority of 2018, this is the first Light-Up Ellijay event they have been used. The major difference being that this parade is largely held in the dark with lights on the float and the town decorations illuminating the area.
Chief Lacey noted this year’s event went “very smooth” as they conducted safety and traffic control with six on-duty officers. He also reported no traffic issues during the event and the after-event surge.
The parade hosted around 35 different groups, according to Cortes, and just under 20 vendors in the temporary market throughout the day. Though he says DEBACA did scale back on certain things, the event still pulled in one of the best business days for downtown merchants despite the tree-lighting ceremony being interrupted with a 5-minute rain shower and a continuing sprinkling of rain until the parade.
Lacey referred to the event as a “more traditional Light-Up Ellijay event.” With Santa Claus appearing on the city steps just before 2:00 p.m. and the market on Broad Street quickly following, citizens and merchants in downtown seem to agree saying, “no question its safer and more efficient.”
Along the lines of balancing Light-Up Ellijay between a tourism event and a local event, Cortes told FYN that despite cancelling the Whoville earlier in November, there are still plans to return to it in coming years. However, he did add that DEBACA has been considering multiple options including hosting Whoville in partnership with another organization with available manpower to host the event on a separate day from Light-Up Ellijay and more cosplay actors to enlarge it on its own.
With possibilities for the future of Light-Up Ellijay being discussed, Cortes also noted the he, personally, thinks that the events success could continue into next year by adding to the parade size and seeking opportunities for the marching band or live-music of some sort.
Citizens, law-enforcement, and business owners all seem to agree that Light-Up Ellijay was indicative of continuing a bright future for Ellijay’s Downtown Events.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Most of the time, when you meet a police officer, it really isn’t a pleasant experience. It has nothing to do with the people, and everything to do with their job.
You may meet them when you’re getting a ticket because you were in a big hurry and may have gone a bit over the limit, or maybe you called because you were robbed and need help, you may have even called to report a wreck and need to give your statement. In any case, the vast majority of the time, police respond to bad situations, it’s really part of the job description.
This year the Ellijay Police Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting the police force, hosted a night in an effort to change that. The National Night Out is a nation-wide community-building event that supports officers and organizations across America, but as Ellijay’s original plan for the date of the event in early August, the rain forced a reschedule.
This weekend, the Ellijay Police Foundation made good on that promise by hosting the event Saturday between 4 and 8 p.m. The event saw many of Ellijay’s Officer’s hosting or dropping by to say hello to citizens and share their time to allow the people to speak with them, play with them, and eat with them, all free of charge.
With music flowing across North Main Street and into the parking lot next to First Baptist Church, the Ellijay Police Department partnered with the Ellijay Fire Department, the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office, The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) Task Force, and its sponsors to set up the police motorcycles, police cruisers, the fire truck, a hummer, and a sheriff’s cruiser for citizens to view, sit in, play with, and climb through. Kids and parents alike were allowed to set off the sirens and lights and try on the equipment that these men and women wear every day.
There was also a golf cart with a driving course and the standard test that citizens could go through while wearing “drunk goggles” simulating inebriation.
Pilgrim’s of Ellijay donated chicken and hot dogs for grilling along with the manpower and the grill to cook for the event. Country Corner Kitchen and Coca-Cola donated a trailer and people to hand out cold drinks. North Georgia Party Rentals donated a bounce house and a dunk tank to help celebrate as well.
That dunk tank saw major attention from citizens as officers climbed in. For a one dollar donation, a person could take three shots at the target to dunk the officer in the tank.
A surprise arose as a donation came from the department’s own Chief Edward Lacey to dunk one of his officers. What many citizens didn’t hear at first was that Lacey had jokingly called it “insurance” as he would be in the tank himself later in the day.
His “insurance” was response to a few people that had managed to run up and hit the button by hand instead of throwing a ball at the dunk tank. The terms were that no one was allowed to hit the button by hand unless they beat his own donation.
The protection was short-lived, however, as his officers found a “generous donor” that offered $100 to allow two officers to hit the button together to drop the Chief by hand.
The event came in partnership as the brain-child of Chief Edward Lacey and hosted by the Ellijay Police Foundation. The foundation’s purpose is to build and foster community with the police as well as gathering funds and donations to provide more training to these officers. Lacey has since reported that over $500 was raised by the dunk tank in support of these efforts.
According to Detective Colburn of the Ellijay Police Department, this is set to become an annual event for the Ellijay Police Department, though it will likely return to its original August date next year as the rain delay pushed it back to September this year.
Check out more photos from the event with our Album on FYN’s Facebook.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Prior to the Ellijay City Council’s November Meeting, they heard a proposal from Russel Brown, local paramedic, for a community welfare program similar to programs in other counties like Floyd County.
According to Brown, patients statistically do better recovering at home. This program would encourage and supervise home health. Different from home healthcare programs, Brown said much of the welfare program is focused on prevention of readmission to hospitals and emergency rooms. They would focus on aspects like vital signs and communication for paperwork. If the program moves forward, it would start out within the Ellijay City Limits.
Funding and grants are available, Brown said, and much of the expense would come from strips for glucometers to measure blood glucose. While he hopes one day it could grow into a community paramedic program, he wished to start at community welfare. Those providing the service would be limited in care, and Brown stated that EMS would still be called for necessary situations.
Specific details for the proposal will come possibly as early as the December City Council meeting as the council requested Brown to return with an official written proposal to detail more things like cost and liability among others.
Another healthcare entity presented a variance request to change the sign for Gilmer Nursing Home on 1362 South Main St. While the variance request was submitted to exceed the three-foot sign regulation of the city, it would in fact be lower than the current sign. Standing at 21 feet now, the request states the new sign will only reach 12 feet in height. A representative from Signs of Interest, Andy Lawson, told FYN the sign change was partially to clean up the facilities appearance and simplify the extras to a lower “nicer looking sign.”
Officially approved by the council, the sign will include a small message board to be utilized by the nursing home. Lawson provided FYN with a drawing of what the sign is expected to look like. Though the sign change is indicative of a name change as part of a remodeling project, Lawson told the council that SunLink Health Systems still owns the nursing home.
Following the same road further south, Highway 382’s changes came to Ellijay with a formal notification by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) that they will abandon the section of Highway 382 that currently extends from the intersection of 382 and Old Highway 5 to the connection at Highway 515. As seen in the picture, GDOT will be constructing a new connector straight across to Highway 515 with a roundabout at the intersection.
The notification comes with the city of Ellijay needing to accept the abandoned portion of 382 into its responsibility for paving and maintenance. However, a motion was made at the meeting to table the item. Citizens can expect the council to revisit the issue in December.
Along with their discussion of roads, an official petition has reached the council to add speed bumps to Gilmer Street near the Senior Center. The petition garnered 20 names and roused discussion from the council about returning the street to a one-way street as well as discussion on purchasing speed bumps for the street. Continued complaints about the speed of vehicles on the street led to suggestions to officially request the change via petition. Discussion took a turn as Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey informed the council that the street was, at one time, a one-way street.
Gilmer Street is a more narrow street and discussion arose as, if the city returned it to one way, they were unsure of which way to direct the traffic. The council tabled the item and requested an official recommendation from Lacey, on how to return it to a one-way street, to discuss along with the speed bumps option. Again, citizens should look for the council to revisit the item in December.
ELLIJAY, GA – A special visitor made his way to Ellijay today as he continues a cross country trip to thank Police Officers for their service.
This time, 9-year-old Tyler Carach, the ‘Donut Boy’ as Police Departments and people across America have begun calling him, began traveling from Florida on June 26, and will continue all the way to New Hampshire before continuing his return trip home. Tyler began his project one day, according to his mother Sheena Carach, in Douglasville when they were in a gas station. Tyler noticed four deputies and decided to buy them mini doughnuts.
Sheena tells FYN that he couldn’t understand why the officers were making such a big deal out of the snacks. After explaining the atmosphere involving police in the nation today and telling him you cannot judge everyone by a few, Tyler promptly announced that he was going to buy every officer in America doughnuts to say thank you.
“I’ve always taught them that if you believe it, you can achieve it. You are the only person in this life that can limit yourself,” said Sheena who helped Tyler by traveling to “local” departments in Florida, some three hours away. However, she very soon began receiving calls from all over the country including Oregon requesting Tyler to stop by. Tyler isn’t just receiving support from community and citizens in his quest, Sheena also praised her husband who travels for work, putting in long hours to support the family as well as Tyler’s dream.
ALTAI, a company who sells Police Department approved boots, has offered a 2% donation of their profits to support Tyler as well as doughnut stores across America who donate and discount their products for Tyler and local officers. Ellijay’s Dunkin Donuts on 515 helped Tyler today by donating two dozen and discounting a third.
Having already begun the paperwork, Sheena tells FYN that she hopes to turn the whole thing into a 501c3 (non-profit) organization so that companies like ALTAI and anyone else can continue to support Tyler and his movement for Police everywhere.
The “I DONUT Need a Reason to Thank a Cop” campaign, and Tyler specifically, has been highlighted and noted numerous times across America, and was even invited to speak at National Police Week, the Georgia Chief of Police Conference, and even the Steve Harvey Show.
The family decided to add Ellijay to their trip because a friend visited and spoke so highly of the town. Being in town since Friday, Sheena says she and Tyler have fallen in love with it as they have yet to meet anyone who wasn’t “just as friendly as can be.” Unfortunately, Tyler may not be in town much longer as “duty calls.” He will continue on to Augusta and then to Pigeon Forge in the next few days.
Though leaving to continue his journey, Tyler has left a lasting impression on America and Ellijay as Police Chief Edward Lacey commented about the visit saying, “He’s a great kid, I love him.”
It’s not just a trip for Tyler, though. He wants to follow through to become a Police Officer one day. Although originally wanting to join SWAT, Tyler got a chance to try on the gear once and told his mother the gear was too heavy. Since then, he has switched to wanting to become a K-9 Officer instead.
His visits exchange far more than doughnuts, however, Sheena tells FYN that Tyler has amassed a noteworthy collection of Police Department patches, hats, coins, and other various items from the Departments he visits. He also secretly leaves something more than doughnuts at the Departments, hiding painted rocks as a part of the connections to Pensacola Rocks, Ellijay Rocks, and numerous other communities he visits.
Make sure to follow more with Tyler’s trip through his Facebook Page.
After combing through the Lawsuit filed by Terry Cantrell, FYN takes a closer look at the Police Report and Dash Cam Footage of the involved incident.
The Incident Report filed with the Police states that Officer Brady Dover was patrolling down River Street when he noticed a dark in color pickup truck fail to maintain its lane by crossing over the fog line and partially into a parking lot. As he followed the vehicle, he initiated a traffic stop, activating his blue lights.
According to the report, after the driver failed to stop, he followed him onto North Avenue in Downtown Ellijay, and then onto McCutchen Street in front of the Ellijay Elementary School and Ellijay Primary School. At this point the driver dramatically increased his speed to a point where Officer Dover had to increase to 55 mph to avoid losing the suspect.
One can see in the dash-cam footage, as the suspect came off the bridge on McCutchen Street, the suspect nearly ran head-on into another vehicle exiting Harrison Park before traveling through the field and crashing into a small creek on the east side of the park.
An Accident Report also indicates he struck two wooden posts that blocked vehicles from entering the field.
The incident report states the suspect exited his vehicle on foot, at which point Officer Dover pursued the suspect, yelling at him to stop.
Pursuing the suspect through the wooded area, a field, and back onto McCutchen Street, Officer Dover once pulled his firearm after noticing “a large knife on his side.” Yelling at him again to stop, the suspect continued fleeing. Continuing his pursuit, the report states Officer Dover heard a second officer, Sergeant Brian Troglin, “give a loud verbal command.”
Sgt. Troglin’s report states that he noticed “a knife approximately 6″ in length on his right hip in a case,” emerged from his vehicle, and yelled, “hold up” at the suspect.
The report also states Sgt. Troglin saw Officer Trevor McClure tackle the suspect with a shoulder tackle.
Officer McClure’s report stated:
AS I QUICKLY CLOSED DISTANCE BETWEEN MYSELF AND MR. CANTRELL, I HEARD SGT. TROGLIN YELL, “WATCH OUT FOR THAT KNIFE,” AND OBSERVED THE KNIFE ON MR. CANTRELL’S RIGHT HIP. I SLOWED DOWN, SLIGHTLY, AND REACHED FOR MY SERVICE WEAPON. AT THIS TIME I WAS APPROXIMATELY FIVE TO SIX FEET FROM MR. CANTRELL’S LOCATION. AS HE TURNED TO FACE ME, I REALIZED THAT I WAS TOO CLOSE TO ATTEMPT TO STOP AND DRAW MY WEAPON. IN ORDER TO PREVENT MR. CANTRELL FROM CONTINUING TO FLEE OR ATTEMPTING TO DRAW HIS KNIFE, I DELIVERED A SHOULDER TACKLE, WRAPPING MY ARMS AROUND MR. CANTRELL’S BACK, AND TOOK HIM TO THE GROUND. I IMMEDIATELY TURNED MR. CANTRELL INTO THE PRONE AND BEGAN HANDCUFFING HIM. AS I TURNED HIM, I NOTICED THAT HIS BODY WAS LIMP AND THAT HE WAS BLEEDING FROM THE BACK OF HIS HEAD. AFTER HANDCUFFING MR. CANTRELL, I SECURED THE KNIFE FROM IT’S SHEATH ON HIS BELT AND HANDED IT TO SGT. TROGLIN.
A second dash-cam footage shows the officer tackling the suspect to the ground, who was then identified as Terry Cantrell.
Sgt. Troglin’s Report states he noticed Cantrell’s head bleeding, called for an ambulance, and instructed Officer McClure to “get the male off his back, put him on his side, and secure his neck.”
According to photographs of the scene, Cantrell had beer cans in the vehicle. He also registered a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.139 according to GBI Crime Lab results by Gas Chromatography.
FYN also noted seven citations from the incident including Striking a fixed object, Reckless driving, Driving while License was Suspended/Revoked, DUI, Failure to stop at a Stop/Yield sign, Failure to Maintain Lane, and Fleeing/Attempting to elude Police.
ELLIJAY, GA – A lawsuit has been filed against the City of Ellijay claiming excessive force by a City Police Officer.
According to the filing by Terry Cantrell, the police attempted to stop his vehicle on June 16, 2015 as he was driving in Ellijay, Ga. As the filing states, he left his vehicle, proceeding on foot. With the officers in pursuit, Cantrell’s lawsuit claims he suddenly threw his hands up to surrender and was tackled to the ground, at which point his head struck the pavement.
Quoting the lawsuit filed, Cantrell claims, “As a direct result of Defendants’ unlawful conduct, Plaintiff has suffered actual physical and emotional injuries, and other damages and losses…”
Cantrell filed his lawsuit against the City of Ellijay, Ellijay Police Chief Edward Lacey, III, and Officer Trevor McClure. Cantrell claims that as he fled police and was tackled, he was unconscious on the ground and was later put on life-flight to Atlanta Medical Center where he claims he was in a coma for 12 days and under medical supervision for 22 days.
Complaints against the City and Officers include “Excessive Force in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, Deliberately Indifferent Policies, Practices, Customs, Training, and Supervision in violation of the Fourth, Fourteenth, and First Amendments, Failure to Render Aid, Breach of Fiduciary Duties, Battery, and Negligence, among others.
Cantrell also claims this is not the first time the Officer has used excessive force in his career.
The lawsuit holds claims for both Punitive Damages and Attorney’s Fees for Cantrell. In a notice to the City of Ellijay, Cantrell’s Lawyer George Weaver, of the Law Office of George W. Weaver, claims the medical expenses amounted over $350,000 and continue to accrue daily. The notice did offer a settlement to the City of Ellijay in the amount of $1,100,000.