McCaysville, Ga. – With growth comes crime, and McCaysville is not immune to this statistic. McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley made a plea to city council to help him keep the citizens of the city safe.
“I know we just passed the budget, but I am asking the council to help me out,” Earley began as he asked council members to find funds somewhere in the budget to hire another full-time officer for night shift.
The McCaysville Police Department is currently comprised of only 6 full-time officers with the remaining force being part-time.
August has been the busiest month that the department has experienced. Earley laid out statistics for the month stating that the department received 53 dispatch calls, 121 phone calls, 15 walk-ins, and 68 vehicle stops.
Among the calls to come in during the month of August, Earley referenced one in particular that reinforced his feelings that the city and his department would be safer with another full-time officer. This incident made statewide news as an officer involved shooting.
Patrolman Bill Higdon was first to arrive on the scene of an unstable gunman holding 3 citizens hostage. According to Earley, Higdon, alone on the scene, screamed into the radio for backup as the suspect was actively discharging a weapon inside the home.
Earley stated that he does not want his officers working alone on night shift. Being in pairs will provide extra security to the officers and enable them “to effectively protect the citizens of this city that we live in”.
“I know this is going to take more money and I don’t know where that money is going to be found, but if you all would consider trying to find that money somewhere,” Earley said about the need for another full-time officer, and added, with visible emotion, about the night of the hostage situation, “We came out ahead and lives were saved that day and we all went home safe. This is just one event that could very easily happen again.”
Council member Rodney Patterson answered Earley immediately addressing fellow council, “I think we could find it in the budget for him to have help.”
Patterson also made mention that the purchase of 3 new body shields at a price tag of $300 a piece would add to the safety of the force.
“I think if our chief needs something then we try to get it for him,” Council member Sue Beaver agreed with Patterson.
Patterson made the motion for a full time officer to be added to the police force and for the purchase of three body shields, council member Richard Wagner gave a second and the council voted unanimously in favor.
Earley mentioned the possibility of moving a part-time officer to the full-time position. This hire would save the city money in that the officer would already have the necessary training to fill the full-time spot.
Seventeen years ago, I’m certain you were inundated with people saying “Never forget” and newscasts saying “We will always remember.”
Indeed, the entire nation, and even the world, poured out its heart for America and the major wound we were struck with. It is the kind of thing that people everywhere will remember. The kind of thing that I will tell my children about. It is indeed something one cannot easily forget.
Even the numbers dredge up memories of all kinds. And honestly, not all of them are bad. I have fond memories of that day. Shock, gasp. I know you may have anger at hearing that but think of yourself on that day. Did you have people with you? Were you amongst friends? Do you remember people all over the world start saying ‘we.’
Today, we find anything we can to show how different we are from one another. We are a divided country. I don’t want to take a side and tell you that you are wrong, whatever you think. It is honestly probably why we have issues. We can’t disagree without getting angry.
But think back to that day…
I sat among fellow students in a freshman orientation class in high school. It is scarred into the wall of my brain that our desks were placed in a circle and I had only one or two of my “friends” in the class. There was even a guy in that class that I really did not like. We did not get along and we did not like each other at all. My how quickly and easily that melted away in the glow of a tv screen as I, first hand, watched a second plane fly into the building.
I feel its impact even today, and I was nowhere near New York. I couldn’t feel it at the time, but today I can remember my body shook when it hit, as if it hit me just as hard as it hit the building.
I remember hearing the report about another one hitting the Pentagon. I remember not doing anything in any class except one, Algebra. I remember the rage that permeated every person in that school that day. Not just anger, a burning rage threatening to engulf your soul. A rage that broke chains and welled up from somewhere incredibly dark near the bottom of my stomach. It was more powerful because it sensed itself in every other person.
Seventeen years, do you remember?
Do you remember the songs written and speeches made? Do you remember being an American? Forget the conspiracies about it, forget the doubt about what really happened. Do you remember that specific moment of impact?
It’s not a special anniversary, it’s not the ten or twenty year anniversary. This long since something and we as people tend to only really recall things on nice, round-numbered years.
Are we remembering? Have we forgotten even though we said we wouldn’t?
I don’t think so. I think seventeen years later, people still hurt. I know the people you don’t speak to on this day and the people who need you to speak on this day.
I know the guy who plans a trip every September. I know he doesn’t actually go anywhere except into the woods to be alone. We don’t talk about his trips, I just understand his Dad was in New York that day on business. Isolated near a stream maybe, maybe he’s up a tree. I don’t know where he is, but inside I hear him screaming at the top of his lungs in his isolation.
I know the woman who holds her son up like a banner for his service because she never had the chance to see him grow into anything else after he died fighting for us.
I see counties and cities holding memorials on this day, but I see something else. I see the separation. I see the people forgetting something along the way.
I can’t forget that pain. I can’t forget that day. I can’t forget that tv. I can’t forget the faces. I didn’t lose anyone close to me. I had friends who served, but I didn’t lose anyone so close as a brother, sister, father, mother, cousin. I have been so lucky, so why is this day forever seared into my soul?
Maybe I’m being emotional? Maybe I’m thinking too much? Will you judge me for that? Will you think less if I can’t let go? Or would it be worse if I didn’t care?
What if I didn’t write this and you never read it? You’d go about your day and maybe you would think about what today is or maybe it’d slip by as you try to finish that project just get through a tough day. What if we let this day fade into history as a footnote and we never look back to think about the feelings of that day, the pain, the rage, the hurt, the solace, the people?
What if we forgot?
I think we all breathed a sigh of relief when Irma came through Blue Ridge doing relatively little damage. But, what if it had lived up to all the dire predictions? Would the city have been ready?
We know that our emergency management team works hard to ensure readiness when needed. You may have seen them performing practice drills that encompass a variety of possible disaster situations. It is comforting to know we have a fine group of men and women at the ready when we need them.
But, is our city infrastructure ready for the next disaster? We have seen the flooding on Ada Street and on W. Main Street after it rains. One can only imagine the damage that would be done to property in the event of a major weather event. And how difficult would it be for our emergency responders to get to people in need if the roads are impassable?
If elected, one of my first priorities will be to address our outdated infrastructure. We need to know what, where, and why we are having these issues.
Once we have answered those questions, we move on to how we are going to remedy the situation. These are hard questions that will require hard answers, and elected officials that are willing to tackle these issues.
Our city is beautiful, indeed. We have lovely public spaces, a fine playground, a renovated train depot. Our newly completed downtown streetscape makes our city even more tourist friendly. All these are reasons that Blue Ridge is included in so many “best of” articles.
But, it won’t matter how beautiful our city looks if it is not built on a sound infrastructure. We must address this issue now, or pay the consequences later.
Your vote for me will be a vote for someone not afraid to tackle the tough issues!
Tag Scanners, Open Records, and Blue Ridge’s attorney.
Pastor protection in the state and Citizen protection in Blue Ridge.