2016
04.29

Chickamauga Battlefield was shut down until 10 this morning as Fort Oglethorpe police and GBI officers searched for a man who fled on foot after a high speed chase.

Chickamauga Battlefield Manhunt

The suspect, Dewayne Ray Burns, crashed his vehicle inside the park. So far he’s not been located, and authorities say he could be armed and dangerous.   Tiny Facebook

What’s the latest at Audia?

Audia Plant Front

The plastics company has begun limited production, but after several years and tens of millions of tax dollars spent ($13.5 million as of October 1, to be exact) it won’t be running full-bore until the end of the year, at least. And the number of jobs being created still fluctuates with every report.

    WQCH Radio, 04/19/16: “THE PRESIDENT OF AUDIA INTERNATIONAL WAS IN WALKER COUNTY LAST WEEK [two weeks ago, TOURING THE COMPANY’S RECENTLY COMPLETED PLANT IN THE BUSINESS PARK AT NOBLE. HE WAS INSPECTING NEW PLASTICS PRODUCTION MACHINES THAT HAVE JUST BEEN BROUGHT ON-LINE.
    “DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY DIRECTOR LARRY BROOKS SAID THE COMPANY IS RAMPING-UP TO FULL PRODUCTION BY THE END OF THIS YEAR. WORK IS BEING COMPLETED NOW ON A TRUCK SCALE, IN ADDITION TO THE ALREADY COMPLETE RAIL-CAR SCALE AT THE SITE. BROOKS SAID ‘THOSE TWO AMENITIES WILL BE ATTRACTIVE TO FUTURE PROSPECTS SEEKING TO LOCATE IN THE BUSINESS PARK.'”

When this mill was first proposed, it was going to be 10,000 jobs, then 1,000 jobs. Later the figures were revised to 200, then 100+. Last we heard they were hiring 60. Now Bebe’s said herself they’ve hired fifty:

    Times Free Press, 04/24/16: “The county issued the bonds to build the industrial park in the Noble community. The industrial park helped bring in plastics manufacturer Audia International, which Heiskell said now employs about 50 people at $17-$20 per hour.”

Employees say Heiskell’s quoted pay rate is a little high, but even if she’s accurate the plant will have to operate for nearly eight years before it will pay out to workers what the county has put into it. ($17 an hour x 40 hours a week x 50 weeks per year = $34,000. Fifty jobs making $34,000 a year will bring home that $13.5 million in 7.9 years. Presumably most of the jobs are on the low end of the pay scale.)

What about other companies that are supposed to be setting up in the industrial park soon? Looks like a no-go, once again.

    WQCH Radio, 03/26/16: “UNCERTAINTY IN VOLKSWAGEN’S FUTURE HAS ‘PUT THE BRAKES’ ON A PLANNED ANNOUNCEMENT FROM ‘PROJECT LUNA’, ACCORDING TO [Larry] BROOKS. HE HEARD FROM THE PROSPECT, A VOLKSWAGEN PARTS SUPPLIER, WHO IS INTERESTED IN LOCATING A NEW PLANT IN THE WALKER COUNTY, LAST WEEK. THEY SAID THEY ARE NOW WAITING FOR ‘UNCERTAINTIES’ AT VOLKSWAGEN-CHATTANOOGA, TO CLEAR UP. THEY HAD NARROWED THEIR LOCATION SEARCH TO CHATTANOOGA AND WALKER COUNTY’S BUSINESS PARK AT NOBLE.”

Economic development fail.   Tiny Facebook

The victim in Monday’s awful wreck in front of Bojangles has been identified as Miranda Beth Sumner.

Miranda Sumner

Sumner is alive, at last update listed in critical condition at Erlanger.

Walmart Wreck / April 25 2016

Police say the 26-year-old failed to stop her Scion and ran into a newspaper delivery truck stopped for a red light at the intersection of 27 and 136.   Tiny Facebook

Walker County officers arrested a Ringgold couple yesterday after a routine traffic stop on 2A.

Ronnie & Trina Moore

Per reports, Ronnie Lynn Moore and his wife Trina Denise Moore were stopped for speeding. Officers found them $14,000 in cash and meth valued at $100 grand inside their vehicle.

Plus: Walker County arrests, April 18-24.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2016
04.26

Monday afternoon an accident on Highway 27 in front of Bojangles nearly claimed the life of a young woman.

Walmart Wreck / April 25 2016

Per reports, a Scion SUV ran into the back of a box truck at the 136/27 intersection around 3 PM. The female driver of the Scion was LifeForce airlifted to Erlanger while traffic was rerouted through Walmart’s parking lot.

Walmart Wreck / April 25 2016

The woman’s name and status have not been formally released to the public, but someone claiming to know her said she’s in stable but critical condition.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

During the last 16 years, Commissioner Heiskell has regularly blamed her mismanagement of the county’s finances on her predecessor, Buddy Chapman.

Bebe Buck Stops Here

Now she’s for some reason surprised Chapman has endorsed one of her election challengers, Shannon Whitfield.

    “‘I get so sick and tired of hearing her blaming someone else for the problems that the county has,” [Chapman] said. ‘We had problems when I got in there. We had all kind of problems. We just tackled them one at a time. You can blame your previous administration for a couple of years. Then it’s your own little red wagon.'”

Heiskell claims one-term commissioner Chapman left the county’s utility bills to the City of LaFayette unpaid for months before she took office – a claim the city clerk flatly says isn’t true.

Buddy Chapman 1996Chapman was only in office four years. HIS predecessor was Roy Parrish, who held the office for more than two decades – and Parrish’s county manager for much of that time was Bebe.

Some of the debt Chapman had to deal with came from THAT era of leadership, meaning Bebe is now attacking somebody who hasn’t held elected office in sixteen years for things she’s done, and half of what HE had to deal with that she’s complaining about came from her in the first place.

Chapman didn’t take out loans every year to run the county’s general funds as Heiskell continues to do. Chapman also published monthly financial reports in the newspaper – something the county charter requires be done at least quarterly, but Heiskell never has and refuses to do so despite being asked to by the Republican Party.   Tiny Facebook

ELECTION 2016

Today is your last chance to get registered to vote for the May primary election. If you’re not registered or have moved/married/etc. today you need to get things squared away before the next vote.

You can register at the Elections Office in the Courthouse any time between now and 5 PM.

The vote is on May 24th, 30 days away – and early voting begins next Monday.

Tonight Walker County Association of Educators will host a school board candidate forum. The forum will be held at GNTC in Rock Spring, 6 PM.

Topics set for discussion include Superintendent Raines’ job performance and the school system’s “standards based” grading system. No word on which of the four candidates for school board positions will be there.

The community is invited to attend, and it sounds like something worth making time for if you care about education in Walker.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

General Electric / GE Logo - J. Puskar

Haier of China’s proposed buyout of GE Appliances still isn’t formally done, but with no government resistance the companies expect their merger to be finished in the next couple months.

GE Appliances is warning employees their payroll/HR/insurance and related matters tied to General Electric will begin transitioning to the new parent company soon, dates TBA.

No clarity so far on how this impacts employees of Roper in LaFayette, a GE Appliances subsidiary.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
04.23

Walker County’s 2015 audit has been released, and as expected the numbers are very bad.

Bebe at the Chamber / Dan Henry Times Free Press

Debt has soared even as tax rates and tax revenue have gone up. Even worse, the audit report openly admits the county and its commissioner have broken state law – for a second year running – by mixing general tax money with SPLOST funds. But the state, so far, has no plans to intervene.

Reported debt is now over $45 million – and this report ends before the Development Authority deal of last fall adding extra tens of millions in debt was finished.

The county also lost another $675,000 on Mountain Cove Farms during the fiscal year, running October 2014-September 2015.

Don’t just take our word for it, read the audit yourself:

 

(Repeated lawbreaking verified in this audit give grounds to the Sheriff or District Attorney to call in the GBI and ask for a deeper investigation into these issues – but don’t hold your breath for Steve Wilson or Buzz Franklin to make that call.)

Bebe Facebook Audit Explanation

Bebe suggests you shouldn’t be reading the audit since you’re likely not a “trained professional.” She continues to insist things are getting better, saying debt is only a little higher than it was when she took office sixteen years ago.

…only if you ignore all the Hutcheson loans she’s co-signed, exclude debts she’s shifted over to the Development Authority, and pretend to be the idiot she hopes you are.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Suspect sought in Ringgold bank robbery.

April 19 2016 Ringgold Bank Robbery

First Tennessee Bank on Alabama Highway was allegedly held up by this gentleman on Tuesday afternoon.

The suspect, whose face was clearly captured in security video, has yet to be identified. Investigators say he left behind “forensic” evidence, which may help track him down once it’s processed.

If you recognize him, call Ringgold PD at 706-935-3066.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2016
04.22

Whitlock Truck Crash in Idaho / KIVI TV

Tragic news yesterday from Idaho: A LaFayette man was badly injured and his truck-driving partner from Resaca killed in a crash east of Boise, Idaho.

    Idaho Statesman, 04/21/16: “A semitrailer carrying two Georgia residents overturned early Thursday on Interstate 84 at milepost 63, between the Blacks Creek rest area and the exit leading to Blacks Creek Road.
    “Idaho State Police say Michael Horne, 47, of Resaca, Ga. died at the scene. An ambulance drove Justin Whitlock, 25, of La Fayette, Ga., to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, where he was listed in serious condition Thursday afternoon.”
Justin Whitlock (Facebook)

Justin Whitlock (Facebook)

    KIVI TV, 04/21/16: “Justin Whitlock, 25, of La Fayette, Georgia and Michael Horne, 47, of Resaca, Georgia were headed eastbound in a 2016 Freightliner pulling a single box trailer.
    “The Freightliner went off the left should of the road and overturned in the median.”

Per Whitlock’s Facebook page, he’s employed by Cedar Creek Trucking of Dalton, which delivers local goods (generally flooring) to the west coast and then brings back produce on return. A photo of the accident shows the pair were hauling apples.

At last update Whitlock was still in critical condition in an Idaho hospital. Prayers go out to Mr. Whitlock; deepest sympathies extended to the Horne family.

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2016
04.19

The 2016 primary election is 34 days away. If the vote were held today, which Republican commissioner candidate would you choose?

Voter registration ends April 26th, early voting starts May 2nd, and the election itself is on May 24th. The winner of this vote will be the Republican nominee and will (presumably) face independent candidates Bebe Heiskell and Perry Lamb in November.

Another theft at Fountain Plaza. That’s 3x this month.

    WQCH Radio, 04/17/16: “SOMEONE SEEMS DETERMINED TO ‘PESTER’ THE FOUNTAIN PLAZA CARWASH BUSINESS IN LAFAYETTE. ANOTHER THEFT WAS REPORTED WEDNESDAY NIGHT – THE THIRD IN THE PAST WEEK.

Fountain Plaza Carwash

    “POLICE CAPTAIN STACEY MEEKS SAID THEY HAVE A ‘PERSON OF INTEREST’ IN THE STRING OF THEFTS, AND THEY’LL BE TALKING TO HIM.
    “$60 IN CHANGE WAS TAKEN FROM THE CAR WASH CONTROL MACHINES IN THE FIRST TWO THEFTS. IT WAS NOT YET DETERMINED HOW MUCH WAS TAKEN IN THE LATEST.
    “THE BUSINESS IS IN THE PROCESS OF INSTALLING MORE SOPHISTICATED VIDEO SURVEILLANCE.”

Two earlier incidents of theft at Fountain Plaza were similar in execution but the released suspect descriptions and form of transportation weren’t the same.

Hopefully for the sake of this small locally-owned business LPD will be able to connect the dots and arrest suspect(s) for all three incidents.   Tiny Facebook

Smoke DetectorSaturday a house fire in Rock Spring heavily damaged a family home.

Smoke detectors are credited with saving the lives, and two dogs, of a family living on Beaumont Rd. The blaze, which apparently started with overloaded extension cords, claimed two cats and did about $80,000 in damage to the house.

Another blaze called in on Sunday turned out to be a false alarm. That one, at the Farmer’s Co-Op near Walmart, was just an un-permitted brush fire from someone living in Carriage Estates trailer park next door.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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