Local hotel owner arrested in connection to multiple alleged safety violations

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The Country Inn and Suites located at 1900 North Expressway remains closed after officials allege numerous safety violations were not resolved. Furthermore, the owner, Hibbet Thacker, has been arrested on 17 outstanding warrants.

The action to close the local hotel followed an annual fire inspection conducted by the Spalding County Fire Department.

“This is the first time that the Spalding County Fire Department has ever done this,” said Spalding County Assistant County Manager Eric Mosley, who added that the hotel is owned under Thacker’s corporation, Neptune LLC. “They are headquartered out of Gwinnett County. He owns hotels here in Griffin, one in Conyers and one in Myrtle Beach. Most of his hotels are Holiday Inn Expresses, but this is Country Inn and Suites.”

Many of the 17 violations alleged by Spalding County Fire Marshal Harold Williams are safety-related.

“A lot of them were around the sprinkler system throughout the hotel being inoperable, the smoke detectors being inoperable. When you have a fire and the sprinkler system is turned on, if they move the furniture over time, they’re able to hook up to the sprinkler system to continue providing pressure to that system, so that also was inoperable. A lot of the emergency lighting was inoperable,” Mosley said. “All in all, there were 17 violations written up by the county fire marshal. The state actually came here Wednesday…and he wrote him up for 36 violations.”

The 17 arrests warrants were in correlation to the violations Williams cited.

When the citations were issued, Thacker was notified of his court date, officials say. According to Mosley, Thacker was a no-show before Spalding County Chief Magistrate Judge Rita Cavanaugh, who issued the 17 arrest warrants for failure to appear.

“That’s the problem. He had a court date and he was a no-show. Any time that happens in Magistrate Court, Judge Cavanaugh issues a bench warrant for arrest,” Mosley said.

Aside from the criminal aspect, Mosley said authorities are hopeful the alleged problems can be resolved.

“In the long term, we hope that he will be willing to upgrade his facility to be able to meet both the county and the state fire codes,” he said. “Spalding County is sad to lose a hotel for sure, because we definitely need a fine hotel in our community.”

Following the state fire marshal’s involvement in Spalding County, additional inspections at Thacker’s other business properties are possible.

“The state fire marshal is I believe at this time also checking into his other establishments. With this one as bad as it is, it might be prudent for them to look elsewhere,” Mosley said.

Local officials say no associated complaints had been filed against Thacker or the Country Inn and Suites.

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Comments

  1. Catlin Chambers says:

    There was a fire that occurred at this hotel while I was employed there. A dryer in the back laundry area had caught flame. Myself and another previous employee, were taken to the hospital (via ambulance) as a result. Thacker repeatedly ignored requests for insurance information to cover the cost of my hospital bill. I do not know about the other employee.

    • Darl Champion says:

      Catlin, we represent a woman who was injured at the hotel when she fell on an exterior walkway. I’ve been looking for former employees to talk to. My email is champ@thechampionfirm.com. I would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you.

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