McCaysville, Ga. – The final 2019 meeting of the McCaysville City Council was anything but business as usual, as conversations aimed at the Mayor became heated and accusations came to light.
Council member Rodney Patterson, who ran against Mayor Thomas Seabolt in the recent city election, used his last meeting with the council to “clear his conscious”. Patterson brought to the forefront some of the issues that he felt the re-elected Seabolt was not being completely transparent about.
The first of Patterson’s reveals were the Mayor’s reimbursement filings for the use of his personal vehicle to conduct city business. According to Patterson, Seabolt had turned in $2,055 in claimed vehicle expenditures last year.
“That’s equivalent to 822 gallons of gas at $2.50 a gallon,” Patterson said explaining his concern and added, “That’s 12,335 miles at 15 miles per gallon.”
Patterson questioned Seabolt if he had done that many miles in less than a 2 square mile city. Seabolt responded, “I might have. I don’t know.”
Seabolt pointed out that the amount also covers “wear and tear” on the vehicle and that he had adhered to the City Charter when turning in his expenditures.
Council member Richard Wagner came to Seabolt’s defense stating that the expenditures also cover vehicle insurance: “I don’t think it’s being abused at all.”
“I’ve never turned in no expense,” Patterson retorted, stating that he has used his personal vehicle for city business as well, “I figured the $200 a month (city council salary) they give me was fair enough for me to do my traveling.”
Patterson then turned his attention to recent renovations being completed at the city park. $28,000 was set aside for renovations of the park’s restrooms. This remodel was to include five toilets and one urinal.
Beavers Home Improvement was put in charge of the job and the city did manage to stay under budget only spending $23,346. However, renovations were not done as expected. Patterson pointed out that the restrooms ended up only having 3 toilets and one urinal, and that no insulation or heating and cooling were put into place, so the restrooms could not even be left open during the Winter months due to the threat of freezing pipes.
A citizen in the audience, a former plumber with over 30 years experience, chimed in on the restroom issue.
“I’ve never seen a job that was done so shabby,” the citizen addressed Seabolt speaking of pipes being installed at improper heights and the lack of quality of the fixtures.
The citizen went on to express his feelings on the possibility of nepotism playing a role: “This man is not a plumber. He is not a qualified contractor. He’s not licensed, but yet he gets a job to go down there and gets paid by the city and his mother’s on the council. This is not right.”
Wondering why the job wasn’t inspected before payment was given the citizen summed up his feelings by stating, “I’ve never in my life seen my tax dollars thrown down the drain like I did down there.”
Although the restroom remodel came in under budget, the park budget itself is $42,459 over the original $300,000 agreed upon by council to spend. Patterson asked Seabolt why the city had not been reimbursed through grant money for the amount spent on the park, and wondered if the city would see the reimbursement at all. Patterson felt the bid process was not done properly by the city and this could disqualify them for reimbursement.
Lastly, Patterson questioned why city employees were driving a Class A vehicle without a CDL license.
According to the United States Department of Transportation, a Class A CDL is required to drive tractor-trailer, or combination vehicles that have a gross combined weight rating of 26,001 pounds or higher with the towed portion of the vehicle that weighing more than 10,000 lbs.
“Why did we not send them to Tri County?” Patterson questioned about the licensing, saying that he had brought this issue to the council before and it was brushed aside. “I just want to know why our employees is driving around illegally in a CDL Vehicle, and there is not a single employee in the City of McCaysville that is licensed to drive it.”
Patterson pointed out the liability to the city and asked City Attorney Cortney Stuart what would be the end result if there were an accident in the vehicle without proper licensing. Stuart replied, “It’s a problem.”
Seabolt also took criticism from citizens in the audience.
Tamberlyn Tanner addressed the workload that McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley has taken on. Earley gives monthly updates at City Council meetings, and usually these updates pertain to more than just police business.
In these updates Earley will often speak of upkeep taking place within the city. It is clear from the updates that Earley is the point of contact on many projects including roadwork, bridge inspection, and city infrastructure.
Tanner expressed that these responsibilities should fall on the Mayor and not the city’s Chief of Police.
“How are you supposed to do your job plus do his job?” Tanner spoke to Earley and then turned to Seabolt, “You’ve added things on his plate that you should be doing and you should be taking care of, not him.”
Tanner said that Earley’s main concern should be to protect and serve the citizens of the city, and wonders how he can continue to do so when new responsibilities are being added to his plate regularly.
This turned into a heated debate between Tanner and Seabolt about Seabolt’s inability or unwillingness to handle the responsibilities of mayor with Seabolt finally stating to Tanner, “I’m not going to sit here and listen to you.”
“Well, you will because I pay taxes here,” Tanner replied.
Seabolt offered no further explanations or defense during the public comments and adjourned the meeting.
Featured Image : Previous McCaysville City Council meeting. (L-R) Rodney Patterson, Richard Wagner, Thomas Seabolt, and Larry Collis
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.
McCaysville, Ga. – James Larry Parris, Jr., age 51, is facing multiple felony charges after an incident that occurred in the early morning hours of Aug. 30. The incident, a hostage situation, led to police using lethal force to bring the situation to an end.
Details are emerging of the events that happened shortly after midnight in the City of McCaysville.
The McCaysville Police Department responded to a housing authority apartment complex after Fannin County dispatch received a 911 call. According to dispatch, Parris stated during the 911 call that no one was leaving the apartment alive.
Patrolman Bill Higdon was first on the scene and upon arriving at the apartment was immediately faced with an armed and belligerent Parris.
Parris had allegedly forced entry into the apartment, which is occupied by his ex-wife. A male friend of the female victim and a minor were also present at the time.
While Parris and his ex-wife have been divorced for many years, sources tell FetchYourNews that Parris had become enraged upon hearing that the male friend was present in the home. According to sources Parris and the unnamed male victim are blood related.
Patrolman Higdon established that Parris was armed with a 20 gauge shotgun and that there were three hostages present at scene.
Parris told Higdon “not to come in the apartement” and verbally threatened the officer and hostages with bodily harm. At this point Higdon requested further assistance, to which McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley, Detective Captain Billy Brackett, Patrolman Cory Collogan, as well as members of the Fannin County Sheriff’s Office and Polk County Sheriff’s Office responded.
Earley, Brackett, and Higdon attempted to negotiate with Parris. Earley told FetchYourNews that negotiations with Parris “went on for quite some time and initially seemed to be successful”. Through these negotiations Parris had agreed to put down his weapon and let the officers enter the apartment.
Once officers began to enter, however, Parris rearmed himself, picking up the shotgun and pointing it at officers while shouting, “Get out! Get out of this house!”.
With the immediate threat that Parris posed to the officers, Chief Earley took measures to end the situation and fired upon Parris, disarming the gunman and allowing time for officers to move in and make an arrest.
Parris was airlifted to a Metro Atlanta hospital where he was treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Parris was released from the hospital on Thursday, Sep. 5.
McCaysville Police Chief Earley, Capt. Brackett, and Officer Mark Chastain, were present at the hospital to escort Parris back to Fannin County.
Paris is currently being held at the Fannin County Detention Facility where he faces the following charges:
- Firearm/Knife possession while committing or attempting to commit a crime
- Criminal Attempt (A person commits the offense of criminal attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, they perform any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime)
- Cruelty to ChildrenBurglaryDamage to and intrusion upon property
- 3 Counts False Imprisonment
- 6 Counts Aggravated Assualt
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Blue Ridge, Ga. – McCaysville City Council made attempts to clarify the purpose and the parameters surrounding the newly adopted “Vendor Ordinance” at their regular July monthly meeting.
The ordinance, adopted in June, was set in place for public safety according to council. By requiring vendors to obtain a permit before hitting the streets of the city, it allows for city officials to monitor activity and put in place necessary precautions ahead of events.
The ordinance requires street vendors to apply at City Hall for a permit, and there is a $25.00 application fee. This application fee is waived for nonprofit organizations and these groups can receive a permit for free.
The McCaysville City Council was moved to pass this ordinance due to the growth of the city and its festivals. Controversy was met, however, when Richard Peacock an open air preacher, posted to Facebook that the ordinance had stopped a young missionary from spreading his testimony.
“This is Aiden, he was saved last year and this year God laid it on his heart to be a missionary. Last week he handed out nearly 200 gospel tracts,” Peacock’s June 30 Facebook post read and goes on to say, “He (Aiden) wanted to go again but I have to tell him McCaysville, will not allow it without a permit. They passed an ordinance last week stopping Christians from sharing the gospel on the public sidewalk.”
FetchYourNews reached out to Peacock asking who had informed him that Aiden could no longer preach on the streets of McCaysville, but we are still awaiting a reply.
Peacock’s post fueled outrage by citizens over the new ordinance, and the McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley even became involved when he publicly replied to the social media post stating: “I have advised Brother Peacock as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the City of McCaysville I will not nor will my department enforce the ordinance and take away the right for some one [sic] to spread the word of God!”
After the backlash via social media, Councilmember Rodney Patterson addressed those present at the meeting: “Lets go ahead and clear it up. It was never meant for a preacher not to be able to preach on the street. I do want to say that. I would never take a fellar’s rights away who wants to preach. It’s freedom of speech.”
Patterson did clarify that while preaching on the streets did not require a permit, if a preacher were to hand out material such as pamphlets and gospel tracts a permit would be required, and that the permit is free for nonprofit organizations.
Jerry Rice, Reverend of Midway Baptist Church, was present at the meeting and inquired about if a permit would be necessary for his organization to hand out candy and gospel tracts in October, as they have done for many years.
Patterson replied to Rice’s inquiry, “That organization would have to have a permit.”
McCaysville City Attorney Cortney Stuart clarified, “You just need a permit. You also can’t pass out Satanic literature without a permit. It’s just meant for anybody, that’s going to do anything, to have a permit so that the city can monitor it and see what is going on.”
“It’s nothing against nobody,” Patterson added to Stuart’s comments and pointed out that in instances where a controversial group might be handing out literature or demonstrating, that the city would need to know to implement measures such as crowd control.
Stuart also clarified, “The city ordinance only concerns city property.”
“So if you’re in the IGA parking lot and never touch a city street ain’t nothing we can do to you,” Patterson added, “That’s personal property.”
McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt told the concerned citizens that the city would be holding a workshop to discuss the ordinance further: “I have talked to our lawyer, we’re going to have a workshop in a couple of months. We’ll work on something. I don’t know what will come of it, but we’ll have a workshop.”
With some clarification being given as to the rules of the new ordinance, FYN spoke with Police Chief Earley as to whether he would now enforce the ordinance in instances of preachers and missionaries handing out material without a permit, Earley replied, “I’ve not looked into that yet.”
McCaysville, Ga. – The City of McCaysville continues to grow with renovation and innovation taking over the small town. This growth brings about economic opportunity and aesthetic upgrades, but with the good also comes the bad. Simply put, anytime you have more people, you will see a rise in crime.
The City of McCaysville Chief of Police Michael Earley spoke to city council members about the workload of his department and the role that law enforcement is playing in keeping the city safe.
Currently the police department has 16 employees, some of which are full-time and others part-time. Of these employees the city boasts three specialized certified instructors, an arson investigator, a criminal investigator, a hostage negotiator, an FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) certified sniper, and a full tactical team.
“Our town, as we know, is undergoing a continual growing cycle,” Earley stated explaining the need for the growth in his department and adding, “which deserve the most professional protection needed to best serve the citizens, business owners, and tourists.”
Last month, May 2019, the McCaysville Police Department responded to 41 dispatch calls, 228 phone calls, 23 walk-ins, and 92 vehicle stops. This resulted in 41 citations being given, 4 arrests being made, and 46 warnings being issued.
The Criminal Investigation Division currently has several open investigations including a case of statutory rape and a case of burglary with warrants expected to be issued soon.
Earley also made mention to a drug related case, “We are actively pursuing a drug investigation with acid / heroin.”
Appointed to Chief of Police on March 16, 2016, Earley gave the stats for the department since his time in that position: “Since my appointment, we have made 100 misdemeanor arrests, 40 felony arrests, and of that number 56 were drug arrests.”
The department, also since that Earley’s appointment, has issued 654 uniform citations and currently have 14 active investigations and 28 active pending warrants.
“Last year alone our department answered 1660 for services from the Fannin County 911 center,” Earley spoke highly of his staff’s work.
Earley compared these numbers to the statistics of previous years. In 2015 only 11 arrests were made for the entire year, and the previous year of 2014 only saw three arrests.
“I appreciate everything you all have done for me and helping me bring the police department where it needs to be. I feel very confident in what we have as a police department now,” Earley addressed the McCaysville City Council for their role in making the department “a professional law enforcement agency”.
Council member Sue Beaver replied to Earley, “Speaking on behalf of the council, thank you. You do a great job for us.”
The District Attorney’s office made a special presentation to the Grand Jury in the case of Michael Earley. The Grand Jury found no reason to investigate the case any further and has closed the case.
Michael Earley has been cleared of any charges. (more…)