Police in the small town say the mystery of what happened to Uncle Si was solved when a concerned resident reported spotting Uncle Si sitting on a neighboring front porch, but when police arrived, the scarecrow was gone yet again.
After a search, police found the scattered and burned remains of the straw-stuffed character in the yard of a juvenile’s home, who admitted to taking the scarecrow and was arrested on a charge of theft by taking. The 16-year-old was released to his parents following his arrest, Ball Ground Police Chief Bryon Reeves said.
“We discovered after a little investigation that a juvenile had taken it. I made contact with the juvenile who lives a little further away and he admitted to taking it,” Reeves said. “It was nothing but ashes it was completely gone.”
City Manager Eric Wilmarth said the juvenile who admitted to taking the
the scarecrow had a Canton address.
“He was just passing through downtown Ball Ground and thought Uncle Si was pretty cool and wanted him. (He) just didn’t think about the consequences, and I am sure didn’t think there would be so much publicity,” Wilmarth said. “The young man has expressed remorse — he is sorry for what he did — it’s just one of those things you can’t back up and undo.”
Reeves said the teen got scared and wanted to get rid of the scarecrow by burning it.
The popular entry in the city’s inaugural scarecrow contest sponsored by the local PTA and coordinated with the City of Ball Ground and the Ball Ground Business and Community Association was the work of a group of Ball Ground Elementary School fourth-grade parents.
Doug Knott, the principal of Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy, said even though it was disappointing to hear about the scarecrow’s demise, the school is turning the incident into an opportunity for learning.
“As you can imagine, the students were very proud of their creation and the positive attention he had received from the community and strangers alike. While it is very disappointing to think that someone would take the scarecrow, I’m sure the individual did not take the time to think through these actions,” Knott said. “Though initially the loss was hurtful to our students and our community, our students are very forgiving and ready to move this into a positive learning experience.”
Knott said the community was fond of the Uncle Si scarecrow and it will be missed.
“Long before Uncle Si’s disappearance and unfortunate demise, the Ball Ground community and all those who travel through the city had grown fond of this very life-like creation of this very popular figure from ‘Duck Dynasty’ fame. Needless to say, Uncle Si the scarecrow was a popular figure long before the unfortunate events,” Knott said.
Reeves said he notified the Ball Ground Elementary School principal when the police found the scarecrow destroyed on Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their scarecrow, but maybe… out of his own remorse, he might make them a new one,” Reeves said. “If they learn anything, (it is) that stealing is wrong no matter whose it is; if it’s not yours, don’t take it.”
Knott said students are learning important lessons from the scarecrow’s destruction.
“They have learned a great deal about how something as simple as a scarecrow can polarize a community. They have also learned that social media can be a very powerful medium to voice the feelings of a community,” Knott said. “In addition, (fourth-grade teacher) Mrs. Dill will be turning this into an opportunity for the students to tie curriculum standards into an activity based out of their real-life experience with this situation. … who knows, maybe the Duck Dynasty crew will be out to visit our students who showed that they could persevere and turn a disappointment into a learning opportunity.”
A reward of $1,000 was offered by the city to anyone who helped lead to the arrest and conviction of the scarecrow thief.
Reeves said the person who helped police locate the teen could get the $1,000 reward if the suspect is convicted in juvenile court, and said the city will make that decision.
The scarecrow went missing from downtown Ball Ground last week, sometime between Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
Allison Martin worked on the scarecrow with three other fourth-grade moms, and said it took more than 40 hours to make the realistic scarecrow.
Martin said Monday the parents plan to remake Uncle Si. She said they forgive the person who did it and they are moving on.
“To begin with, we were kind of upset; the main reason we had done ‘Duck Dynasty’ was because of the background and their beliefs and we truly believe in them, and as a community we have to forgive,” Martin said.
Martin said the fourth-grade moms decided to do a scarecrow theme around “Duck Dynasty” because the show reflects the tight community and Christian values that many in Ball Ground appreciate.
“The kids got to pick what they wanted as their scarecrow, and that’s what they wanted,” Martin said. “It was just so satisfying to hear, ‘Oh my gosh, look at him, look at him!’ And to hear all the kids talking about it. As moms … that’s what you enjoy is hearing excitement from the kids.”