City of Chipley responds to ‘cash hunt’ call out

The City of Chipley is responding to a social media post made Wednesday night urging residents to “express their displeasure” with the city regarding the announced cancellation of the Panhandle Cash Hunt planned for June 23 through 26.

“The highly anticipated cash hunt that would be taking place 10 days from now has been cancelled,” states the post, which then listed the phone numbers of and named Chipley Police Chief Scott Thompson, CPD investigator Michael Richter and Chipley Mayor Tracy Andrews.

“The reason given by them was ‘with allegations without documentation,’ as well as the Chipley PD discriminating against our willingness to give back to the community,” continued the post. “We know this will upset many of you, and we suggest you voice your opinion here or call the above-mentioned numbers.”

The event is a scavenger-hunt style event that gained popularity in recent years with participants vying to be the first to find varying amounts of cash hidden around Chipley.

While the hunt itself has been held sporadically, the mixed reception from the public has remained seemingly consistent.

“My family and I had so much fun getting out of the house and spending time together doing this hunt,” Chipley resident Wendi Hartzog commented on the event’s Facebook page following the last hunt, held over Memorial Day weekend. “We made great memories as a family doing this. The negativity of others is only out of jealousy that they did find it. I would gladly love to do this again. We had so much fun.”

While the event’s social media page is filled with positive comments about the event, other local residents have expressed safety concerns.

“I think it’s a good thing to have people downtown, but it needs to be done in a safer manner,” said Chipley resident Cheryl McCall. “There were drivers stopping in the middle of the road and children darting out into the road. A man stuck his arm into a live light fixture at the chamber office, and you had people on private property. All this was going on during Memorial Day weekend traffic.”

The Panhandle Cash Hunt page did make several posts prior and during the last event asking participants to obey traffic laws, be respectful of private property, refrain from littering or vandalism, and to be mindful of their own safety and that of others. Some residents say those advisories went largely unheeded, however, and brought those concerns to the Chipley City Council.

Councilman Kevin Russell raised the issue when the council met in a workshop Thursday, inquiring if the City had any way to control the event.

City Attorney Michelle Jordan advised the council they had no recourse of regulating the event, telling Washington County News on Wednesday that it did not qualify as a special event.

“Safety concerns over the cash hunt were raised by citizens last week during the city council workshop,” said Jordan. “I advised the council and administration at that time that this event did not meet criteria to require any special event permit and that no permission was needed from the city for the operator of this event to use the city’s right-of-way.”

Jordan went on to say that she is unsure of why the event’s organizers asked the public to voice their displeasure.

“The city has not impeded this event,” she said. “The official position is that we have no way of regulating it, and we have not attempted to do so.”

Organizers of the Panhandle Cash Hunt remained anonymous as of Wednesday but did contact Washington County News to say their intent is to create a free, family friendly activity for the community.