2016
07.23

In a special called meeting Thursday night, Walker County Board of Elections formally certified Perry Lamb’s campaign to run as an independent candidate for Commissioner.

Lamb Petition Final Copy

Lamb’s name will be on the official ballot this November, opposing two Chickamaugans: incumbent Bebe Heiskell and party choice Shannon Whitfield.

Elections Facebook: Perry Lamb Campaign Certified

This is a victory for those who want real choice in the election, to defeat the broken status quo and to move away from ethically conflicted party politics.

Perry Lamb Facebook: Perry Lamb Campaign Certified

Now poor Shannon Whitfield will actually have to work for this election – and might even have to put his campaign signs back up.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Barwick Mill Debris

When Barwick’s old carpet facility burned back in November, the city said its owner would be prompt about beginning the cleanup process.

Eight months later cleanup is mostly on hold, but the EPA says any time now owner Drennon Crutchfield of Dalton will get the mess removed.

    WQCH Radio, 07/21/16: “THE WHEELS ARE FINALLY STARTING TO TURN ON THE CLEANUP OF THE FORMER BARWICK MILLS PLANT – MUCH OF WHICH WAS LEVELED BY FIRE LAST NOVEMBER.
    “WQCH NEWS TALKED TO EPA SITE COORDINATOR DAVID ANDREWS, WHO SAID WITHIN 30 DAYS, A NEW CONTRACTOR WILL BE ON-SITE AND STARTING THE DEMOLITION PROCESS.
    “EPA SAMPLED THE STORED WATER RUNOFF FROM FIRE-FIGHTING, WHICH IS IN THE BASEMENT OF THE BURNED PLANT AND ALSO STORED AT THE OLD ARCHER PLANT IN KENSINGTON. IT IS CONTAMINATED, BUT NOT CONSIDERED ‘HAZARDOUS WASTE’. ANDREWS SAID THE PLAN IS TO TRANSPORT THAT WATER TO A TREATMENT FACILITY IN ATLANTA. ASBESTOS IS ALSO INCORPORATED INTO THE DEBRIS INSIDE THE BUILDING AND WILL ADD SOMEWHAT TO THE COMPLEXITY OF THE CLEANUP.
    “THE PROPERTY OWNER, DRENNON CRUTCHFIELD, WAS ‘CAUGHT OFF-GUARD’ WHEN THE FIRST CLEANUP CONTRACTOR HE HIRED, PULLED OUT OF THE PROJECT. HE HAS NOW EMPLOYED GEOSYNTEC OF KENNESAW, GEORGIA, AS THE PROJECT CONSULTANT.
    “EPA SAYS THE CONSENT ORDER IS EXPECTED TO BE SIGNED THIS WEEK, WITH ANOTHER 20 DAYS OR SO TO REVIEW THE PLAN. SO, VERY SOON- PERHAPS WITHIN 30 DAYS- THE ACTUAL CLEANUP OF THE BURNED PORTION OF BARWICK MILLS WILL BEGIN. ANDREWS ADDED THAT MR. CRUTCHFIELD HAS BEEN EXTREMELY COOPERATIVE AND IS ANXIOUS TO SEE THE BUILDING SAFELY DEMOLISHED.
    “EPA IS ALSO PRINTING FLIERS TO DISTRIBUTE IN THE COMMUNITY – LETTING THE PUBLIC KNOW DETAILS OF THE CLEANUP PLAN.”

After changing contractors and deciding plant debris is full of the asbestos we were once told didn’t exist, cleanup is now expected to begin within thirty days.

In January debris removal was projected to start in February and take a year to finish. Then in early May the city expected cleanup to begin in late May. Now the timeline is late August. At this rate, cleanup not be done in our lifetimes.

Mr. Crutchfield also promised to pay for all the cleanup AND comp the city/county for expenses related to putting the fire out. Hopefully he’s kept that promise – although the man hasn’t paid his taxes on time for any of his Walker County properties in years, so don’t bet on it.   Tiny Facebook

Two Catoosa teens charged with raping a girl under the age of 16 have been released on bond.

Destin Noble & Brett Hardy

Facing charges of molestation, rape, and supplying alcohol to a minor, Destin Noble and Brett Hardy weren’t allowed to graduate with the rest of their class earlier this year and are prohibited from contacting their alleged victim – but Noble is still allowed to work with young girls as a cheerleading coach in Tennessee.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
07.21

Commissioner Heiskell rejected Santek’s bid on the landfill last week, but insists she still plans to sell the county facility in some way.

Bebe Heiskell Pirate Christmas Tree Outfit

Heiskell has said the dump might be able to make money but she’s never tried to, and keeps flip-flopping about whether or not an appraisal was done of the site. So far, all she’s accomplished is making the dump a political football for her challengers Lamb and Whitfield.

(The ultimate dump solution? Dump Bebe.)

Heiskell has made using the dump as inconvenient as possible for citizens while opening it up for large companies to dump construction debris here, cheap.

By contrast, Chattooga County (which has no dump of its own) is looking to expand free dumpster service for residents. A recently closed dumpster and recycling bin area in Subligna may soon reopen in another location, so people who live, buy, and pay taxes in that community have somewhere to leave trash.

What a difference a county line makes.   Tiny Facebook

Straight Gut Rd Mountain Lion FootprintThe Messenger has more accounts of mountain lion sightings in the area, plus this photo of a footprint reportedly left by one on Straight Gut Road earlier this year.

That goes along with stories of a mountain lion being seen and heard inside the city last week – something the Department of Natural Resources insists did not occur.

Northwest GA cougar sightings, both old and news, have at least one thing in common: Every single one has been dismissed by the DNR, regardless of any evidence submitted.   Tiny Facebook

Carlton WheelerProminent business leader Carlton Wheeler has passed away at age 90.

Wheeler served in the military during World War II and the Korean War, sold insurance for State Farm for six decades, and was involved in a number of community organizations including the Rotary, Boy Scouts, and GNTC.

In 1989 he survived a car crash on Lake Howard Rd. that claimed the life of his first wife, Betty.

His services were Wednesday and Thursday.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
07.19

Walker County Dump / Times Free Press

Commissioner Heiskell has backed down from her idea of selling the garbage dump, saying the single bid received wasn’t adequate. Which isn’t surprising, considering how short a time she gave (during a holiday) for anyone to evaluate the facility with minimal information.

    WQCH Radio, 07/18/16: “THE PROPOSED SALE OF THE WALKER COUNTY LANDFILL IS OFFICIALLY ‘ON HOLD’. COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL HAS DECLARED A ‘NO BID’ ON THE PROPOSED SALE OF THE MARBLETOP ROAD LANDFILL AND TRANSFER STATION. THE DECISION WAS MADE MONDAY MORNING, ACCORDING TO A RELEASE.
    “‘WE ONLY RECEIVED TWO BIDS AND BOTH WERE NOT RESPONSIVE TO THE BID PACKAGE REQUIREMENTS. THEREFORE, WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO ‘NO BID’ THE PROCESS AND RE-EVALUATE’, HEISKELL SAID.
    “THE RELEASE CONTINUED: ALL OTHER LOCAL CITIES AND COUNTIES HAVE LONG SINCE SOLD THEIR LANDFILL OPERATION TO PRIVATE VENDORS, EXCEPT FOR DADE COUNTY. THERE ARE MANY SERVICES THAT ONLY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CAN OR WILL PROVIDE. HEISKELL SAID IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN HER PRINCIPLE TO ‘LET PRIVATE ENTERPRISE TAKE OVER AND PROVIDE SERVICES WHEN AND IF IT BECOMES ECONOMICALLY FEASIBLE’ – AND AS AN EXAMPLE, GAVE LAST YEAR’S SALE OF THE COUNTY AMBULANCE SERVICE.
    “‘THIS EFFORT WAS NOT SUCCESSFUL’, HEISKELL SAID, ‘BUT WE WILL RE-EVALUATE WHILE BEING GUIDED BY BELIEF IN THE PRINCIPLES OF CAPITALISM AND PRIVATE ENTERPRISE'”

(Where was Heiskell’s “belief in private enterprise” when she was spending county tax dollars to set up a restaurant?)

If the sole bid to buy the county construction debris dump HAD been accepted, for just $1.7 million, the county would still have faced financial liability for the long-closed household waste landfill. Santek of Cleveland, TN would have taken over the landfill transfer station and the county would have abandoned a $1 million dump expansion project.

Walker Co Messenger: Landfill Sale Bids (06-22-16)

Before announcing the deal was dead, Heiskell said she was selling the dump to “stop the bleeding” – even though it’s not clear if the facility could be made profitable under better management, and the deal with Santek could have actually made county losses worse.

   Related Videos: June 30 Commissioner Meeting | July 14 Commissioner Meeting

Commissioner candidate Perry Lamb said the deal shouldn’t be done until the dump can be appraised and the people have an idea of its true value. Candidate Shannon Whitfield said he wouldn’t do the deal for less than $10 million, regardless of appraisal.

Like A Bebe In the Wind

Maybe Bebe finally came around to having some common sense about selling one of the county’s last few remaining unrestricted assets, or simply feels the pressure being applied by her challengers and constituents. (Or Santek’s campaign check didn’t clear the bank? Who knows.)

Hopefully Heiskell will now listen to the people, for once, and let this decision – and any other major selling or buying of county assets – be made by her replacement after January 1st.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Over the weekend, Lake Winnie was the scene of a scary accident involving two youth.

Lake Winnie Fly-O-Plane Ride

Two boys were injured Saturday afternoon on the park’s Fly-O-Plane ride. Their names, ages, conditions, and specifics of the accident have not been released.

The seventy-year-old ride is closed for now, and an investigation is underway.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Late last week, fire crews from the National Forestry Service took over battling a blaze in a remote area of Lookout Mountain.

Lookout Mountain Fire / WRCB

Working in coordination with the National Park Service and Georgia Forestry Commission, about sixty people fought the fire and had it 75% contained as of Saturday afternoon. Around 20 acres have burned.

It could take another week or more before flames are completely extinguished.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2016
07.15

Perhaps there’s not a lot of demand for a money-losing garbage dump in the middle of nowhere.

Walker County Dump / Times Free Press

During Thursday’s business meeting, Commissioner Heiskell revealed that only two companies responded to her request for bids on the county’s C&D dump – and only one of those two actually made an offer.

Republic Services, which has a long relationship with Commissioner Heiskell, responded to the bid request with a “no thank you” note due to the short amount of time allowed for bidding. Santek of Tennessee made an offer, a paltry $1.7 million.

Despite earlier reports of five interested parties (including the City of LaFayette), those two companies are the only ones who sent in anything at all. The bid was structured so only a large garbage hauler would qualify to bid, and language in the bid package made it clear that Heiskell could reject any bidder for any reason – her right as sole commissioner. In light of that, it’s no wonder almost nobody bothered.

(Perry Lamb and Shannon Whitfield were both at the weekly meeting. Here’s Lamb’s take on what happened. Here’s Whitfield’s view. Both candidates rightly point out that Heiskell claimed a week ago there was an appraisal made of the dump, but claimed none existed this week when asked for it.)

Like A Bebe In the Wind

Heiskell said she’ll make a final decision about accepting the Santek deal next week. If the deal is approved, the county will still spend another $300,000-$400,000 on the ongoing dump expansion project. When/if Santek takes over they’ve agreed to charge county residents the current rate of $38.50/ton to drop off debris.

The dump sale also include the building that houses the county animal shelter, adjacent to the landfill. A winning bidder will have to let the shelter continue to operate the building, with a rental agreement, for the next ten years.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

State wildlife officials can’t find any sign of the supposed LaFayette Mountain Lion in town, and say the animal is still technically extinct in this area and isn’t likely to be seen by anyone.

LPD says three separate people who claimed seeing the animal inside the city are “reputable,” and LU has heard from a handful of people saying they’ve seen a mountain lion in the area in the past – however, no photo or other recent evidence of the big cat has surfaced.

If you see this animal and can do it safely, get a picture and send it in – pics@lafa.ga.   Tiny Facebook

Ever seen a kid punished by apologizing for what they did wrong, and their “apology” feels fake and false?

Brent Marsh Arrested / 2002

As a condition of his probation, Brent Marsh wrote a four-sentence long “public apology” for the horrible crimes he committed at Tri-State crematory a decade-plus ago.

    “I humbly and very respectfully acknowledge the hurt and pain my actions have caused. I sincerely apologize.
    “Moving forward I can assure everyone that my life and deeds will not only prove the sincerity of my words but my desire to lead a life that is worthy of this community.
    “I am thankful to so many who have welcomed me home, wished me well, prayed for me and are giving me an opportunity to return to my family and this community.
    “Prayerfully, Brent Marsh”

So now the community is healed, or something.

Marsh’s “apology” still gives no explanation for his actions. There’s also still no apologies from Brent’s mom, who owned the business and made him take it over, who knew what was going on and yet faced no punishment.

And no apology from Steve Wilson, who was made aware of what was going on several years before it was officially discovered, yet did virtually nothing to check into it, saying there’s no crime in being behind in your work.   Tiny Facebook

Lookout Mountain Fire / Trail Closed

A forest fire atop Lookout Mountain has now burned for three days and is nowhere close to being contained. Thursday US Forest Service fire crews took over the battle from state fire fighters.

Flames threaten nine homes and TVA equipment. A handful of Chickamauga Battlefield trails on Lookout remain closed due to the fire, which has already burned 20 acres in an area difficult to reach with fire equipment.

National Park Service says the blaze likely began as a campfire, and the person(s) responsible for it may face federal charges if identified.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
07.13

Talk of the town this week has been an alleged mountain lion/cougar spotted by residents of several neighborhoods in town.

Mountain Lion / Sample Photo

The animal, which hasn’t yet been photographed for some reason, has been seen in Dogwood Circle, on Roundpond Road, and off Shipp Road. The cat, bigger than a medium size dog, is suspected of making chickens and at least two goats in the area disappear. [Pic is not of the specific cougar in LaFayette.]

City police and Georgia DNR are investigating the LaFayette Lion, putting in trail cameras to figure out where/what it is, and hoping to capture and relocate it.

Initial reports quoted Captain Meeks of LPD saying homeowners should shoot the animal if they feel threatened, without clarification that it’s a) illegal to kill a mountain lion for sport in Georgia and b) against the law to fire a gun inside the city limits of LaFayette. So if you see the beast, get yourself and your family/animals inside and call 911. Only shoot if you’re being aggressively threatened.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Monday, as expected, Perry Lamb submitted 2,142 signatures to the county elections office so they can make his campaign for commissioner official.

Lamb Petition Final Copy

The Elections Commission will have to certify just 1,650 of those signatures as belonging to registered voters in order for Lamb to officially qualify and have his name on the ballot this fall. The process is expected to take two weeks.

Lamb and his crew collected almost 30% more names than needed so there will be no doubt the campaign is legitimate, but naysayers are already starting rumors that the signatures are fakes. It’s rumored that Republican Party leaders have already requested a copy of the petition, for reasons unknown – hopefully nothing nefarious.

Walker County’s powerful want to derail Lamb, because they see him changing the status quo – the same reason they rejected LU’s less official petition from two years ago demanding a vote on sole commissioner.

Will November’s election be a vote of the people, or a vote of the established Powers That Be?   Tiny Facebook

Catoosa County Robbery Scene - July 11 2016

Catoosa officers and law enforcement agencies around the region are on the lookout for two black men driving a beat up black Honda Civic, suspected of a home robbery Monday morning.

Per reports, the two men were found inside a home on School Street, in Catoosa with a Rossville address. They ran out a side door and shot at the homeowner, who was still inside his vehicle.

The robbery victim was not injured.   Tiny Facebook

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