2014
07.28

Apparently Commissioner Heiskell has gotten calls about a link shared here last week regarding the future of Roper.

Bebe Heiskell Roper Sale Denial

The initial story wasn’t made up by LU, it was a report from Bloomberg business news. The story was also picked up with additional details by the Wall Street Journal [registration required]. Per both articles, GE is considering a sale of its entire appliance unit (not just Roper) after another business deal is finished later this year.

A union member at GE Appliance Park in Kentucky says nobody there knows anything about a pending sale but also says anybody who WOULD know is contractually not allowed to say anything. Same situation here: If there WAS somebody at Roper who knew what was going on, they couldn’t admit it without losing their job.

Bebe’s breakroom gossip “contacts” at Roper haven’t heard anything; Meanwhile Bloomberg Business News, which has contacts inside GE corporate HQ, says preliminary sale talks are happening. You can believe whoever you choose on this one.   Tiny Facebook

More legal trouble for Daniel Alex Snyder.

Alex Snyder

In addition to “fleeing from police” charges filed last week, Snyder has been connected with three recent vehicle break-ins in West LaFayette.

    WQCH Radio, 07/26/14: “NOW, SNYDER HAS ALSO BEEN LINKED TO AN ‘ENTERING AUTO’ CASE REPORTED JUST AFTER THE CHASE. AN OFF-DUTY POLICE OFFICER SAID HE SPOTTED SNYDER GOING THROUGH A PICKUP TRUCK SUNDAY EVENING [July 20th]. THE NEXT DAY, THE OWNER REPORTED TO POLICE THAT SOMEONE STOLE A SONY CD-RADIO FROM HIS TRUCK AT 807 MAGNOLIA STREET. THE MAN SAID SNYDER HAD BEEN TO HIS HOUSE FOR A VISIT, BUT HE DIDN’T GIVE HIM PERMISSION TO ENTER HIS TRUCK. TWO OTHER VEHICLES WERE ENTERED IN THE SAME AREA OF TOWN AT AROUND THE SAME TIME.
    “SNYDER HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH ONE COUNT OF ENTERING AUTOS, ALONG WITH CHARGES OF FLEEING TO ELUDE AND OBSTRUCTION OF AN OFFICER.”

Mr. Snyder has apparently been apprehended. His arrest might slow the rate of vehicle break-ins, but he’s hardly the only person responsible for those. Residents should still be careful to lock their car doors at night.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

During Thursday’s LaFayette council meeting, results from the city’s fiscal 2013 audit were presented. Thanks to higher rates, the electric, gas, and water departments all made profits during the year, funds that go to run the city instead of taxes.

LaFayette Golf Course Clubhouse

Unfortunately the golf course and airport still bleed cash that could be used to pave roads, pay police, or lower the utility rates a bit. Neither of those subsidized “business type” activities have made a profit since LU has paid attention.

We’ll concede that the airport is “necessary infrastructure” that has to exist even if it doesn’t make money, despite the fact that it serves less than 1% of the city’s population.

But the golf course, which might benefit 5% of the residents at best, serves no necessary function other than giving the city’s old men somewhere to go when they need to hide from their wives.

It’s clear from the latest audit (and has been for years) where the city’s financial “leaks” are. Now it’s up to the council to decide if they’re politically willing and able to make reforms like cutting out free play for city employees, bringing in outside management, or selling the course outright.

(Don’t hold your breath for any of that to happen.)   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.25

Police are looking for 25-year-old Daniel Alex Snyder, who fled after a vehicle chase through West LaFayette last Friday. He ran off on foot as his abandoned truck rolled into a police car. Pursuit began because he had no license and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt; LPD plans to charge him with reckless driving and running from police.

Alex Snyder

    WQCH Radio, 07/23/14: “WARRANTS HAVE BEEN ISSUED FOR THE ARREST OF 25 YEAR OLD DANIEL ALEX SNYDER. HE WAS OBSERVED DRIVING A NISSAN PICKUP AT AROUND 4:45 FRIDAY AFTERNOON. OFFICERS WERE FAMILIAR WITH THE FACT THAT HE DID NOT HAVE A LICENSE, AND HE WAS ALSO OBSERVED DRIVING WITHOUT A SEATBELT. WHEN THE PATROLMAN’S LIGHTS WENT ON, THE CHASE BEGAN ON DAUGHERTY STREET AND CONTINUED THROUGH A NUMBER OF NEIGHBORHOODS, ENDING ON GILBERT LANE.
    “POLICE SAY SNYDER JUMPED FROM THE TRUCK AND FLED ON FOOT. WHILE GIVING CHASE, THE OFFICER HEAD A ‘BANG’ AND LOOKED BACK TO SEE THAT THE PICKUP HAD ROLLED DOWN THE HILL AND INTO HIS PATROL VEHICLE.”

Anyone who knows where Snyder is and refuses to tell police, or helps him hide, could also face charges.   Tiny Facebook

Tuesday’s primary runoff election featured no local races for Walker County, resulting in a collective yawn from most local voters.

John DeffenbaughIncumbent GA State Representative John Deffenbaugh won the GA House 1 Republican candidate runoff election with 55% of votes cast; 1,351 vs. 1,103.

Deffenbaugh will face Democrat Tom McMahan in November. Deffenbaugh easily defeated McMahan for the same position in 2012 and has done essentially nothing since taking office in January 2013. (House District 1 covers the west side of Walker County and all of Dade.)

The runoff race to determine Republican candidate for Georgia School Superintendent is one of the closest state-wide votes in years. With 397,830 votes cast, Richard Woods came out ahead of Mike Buck by only 718 – about .1% of the total. State law allows a recount if the difference between candidates is less than 1% of total votes; Buck has asked for a second tally which could delay official vote certification by a week or more.

Buck is currently serving as interim school superintendent since his predecessor, John Barge, resigned to run for governor. (Barge was defeated in May.) Buck, who was endorsed by Jeff Mullis and a pile of incumbent state leaders, has been a proponent of Common Core school standards. His opponent and apparent winner of the race, Woods, has opposed Common Core. Neither has been very supportive of charter schools or other school choice options.

School Superintendent Candidates

On the Democrat side, Valarie Wilson defeated Alisha Morgan for school super. Wilson and Morgan both took positions in favor of Common Core, but Morgan was in favor of charter schools which Wilson rejects. Wilson will oppose Woods (or maybe Buck) in the fall.

Former Dollar General CEO David Perdue was declared winner in the US Senate primary election runoff. His defeated opponent, Jack Kingston, was considered a favorite of current state leadership and Georgia Chamber of Commerce. Perdue will face Democrat candidate Michelle Nunn in November.

Statewide election results.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

LaFayette’s July council meeting was held Thursday night at 7:30. Meeting was moved from its usual “second monday” slot due to council members having plans to attend meetings out of town.

Agenda for the meeting posted Thursday (Word document) shows several issues, including changing two-way stops in Linwood back to four-ways and selling off surplus equipment. Initial reports from the meeting say both those suggestions were easily approved.

A proposal from June to raise the cap on purchases made without City Council approval was brought back up. Originally the mayor asked to change the old $3,000 limit to $25,000, which seems like an opportunity for abuse.

During Thursday’s meeting council voted to let the City Manager make purchases up to $8,000 without prior permission but required him to immediately notify the mayor and council of anything over $3,000. They also gave the manager an exemption on the cap for fuel purchases. He can buy aviation fuel or gasoline as needed regardless of the amount without seeking approval from the council, in order to take advantage of low prices.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.21

GE is planning to put its appliance division (including Roper in LaFayette) up for sale, again, after it finishes buying Alstrom.

Roper Corp

The massive conglomerate tried to sell the Kentucky-based appliance business six years ago and couldn’t find any takers; since then the global economy has slightly improved, and GE has invested tens of millions into the business – making it a more valuable buyout target.

Selling out wouldn’t necessarily mean Roper’s closure, but would raise the chances of that happening considerably. Roper shutting down would make Blue Bird closing in 2010 look like nothing in comparison; the loss of 1,300+ jobs would throw LaFayette, Walker County, and much of Chattooga County down a proverbial economic toilet.   Tiny Facebook

If you’re keeping drugs in the car, be sure to also keep a jug of someone else’s warm pee handy in case you’re asked to take a random drug test. Not that it helped THESE guys very much..

    WQCH Radio, 07/17/14: “LAFAYETTE POLICE DISCOVERED POT, DRUG PARAPHERNALIA AND STORED URINE AFTER A TRAFFIC STOP LAST WEEK.

Alex Hardegree

    “THE STOP WAS MADE FOR A TAIL LIGHT VIOLATION AND BECAUSE THE DRIVER WAS OBSERVED FOLLOWING ANOTHER CAR TOO CLOSELY. WHEN THE CAR WAS STOPPED AT THE FORMER DON LOLO PARKING LOT, THE OFFICER DETECTED THE ODOR OF MARIJUANA AND CONSENT WAS GIVEN FOR A SEARCH.
    “THAT TURNED-UP A SMALL QUANTITY OF MARIJUANA, A PIPE AND OTHER ITEMS, PLUS A STORE OF URINE, BEING HEATED WITH HAND-WARMERS.
    “THOSE ARRESTED WERE BOTH ON PROBATION – AND POLICE BELIEVE THE URINE WAS BEING KEPT IN CASE THEY WERE REQUIRED TO DO A DRUG TEST. 22 YEAR OLD ALEXANDER BROOKS HARDEGREE AND 25 YEAR OLD JOHNSON EUGENE SCHRADER WERE CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA.”

Urine passed by drug users can also sometimes be used to make more drugs.   Tiny Facebook

LaFayette Tree TrimmingLU has gotten complaints during the last week about LaFayette aggressively cutting back trees along the roadside. The city has apparently gotten calls from people upset that their trees were trimmed so much.

Seems like LaFayette Public Works has long needed to do more aggressive trimming, because in some places you can’t see how to get in the road for limbs or bushes; anything in the city’s street right-of-way is legally fair game to trim and a liability to the city if someone has an accident.

One reason the trees look so bad this time is because they haven’t been trimmed in a long while. Regularly conducting this kind of maintenance (which is often neglected by the city AND especially county) will keep the damage to a minimum.

Do you think cutting has gone too far or was it something long overdue?   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.18

Welcome To Walker CountyCatoosa County’s multi-commissioner government reports “financial strength” for the fiscal year, bringing in more money than was spent; Catoosa won’t need to raise taxes this year.

Dade County’s school board announced a positive cash situation during its last meeting and actually lowered property tax there a smidge. Walker Co. Schools has also said no education tax increases here thanks to increasing state support and cost controls.

What about Walker County’s general government? Nine months into the fiscal year (which runs October-September) there’s still no 2014 budget. Commissioner Heiskell claims she doesn’t know how the county is doing financially and – despite saying months ago taxes would be going up – won’t formally admit if she’s raising taxes or not, even though the legal deadline to submit a tax increase to the state is sometime in August.

    WQCH Radio, 07/14/14: “THE WALKER COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL NOT BE RAISING PROPERTY TAX MILLAGE RATES THIS YEAR: THE NEWS FROM SUPERINTENDENT DAMON RAINES. THIS IS THE FIFTH-STRAIGHT YEAR THAT THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS MAINTAINED THE SAME RATE OF TAXATION ON LOCAL PROPERTY OWNERS…
    “WQCH ALSO ASKED WALKER COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL WHETHER PROPERTY TAXES WILL BE RAISED FOR THE OPERATION OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT AND SHE SAID THURSDAY, THAT ‘IT’S TOO SOON TO TELL’. THE BUDGET PROCESS HAS STARTED, BUT A NUMBER OF VARIABLES MUST BE TACKED-DOWN BEFORE THE REVENUE NEEDS OF THE COUNTY ARE KNOWN.
    “EARLIER THIS YEAR, HEISKELL SAID IT APPEARED THAT A TAX INCREASE OF ‘AT LEAST ONE MILL – AND MAYBE MORE’, WILL BE NEEDED THIS YEAR.”

What’s the difference between Walker County Schools, Dade County Schools, and Walker County’s general government? What’s the difference between Catoosa and Walker leadership? Competence, for one thing. Not having one sole person in charge, for another. Maybe we should try both of those sometime; obviously what we’re doing NOW isn’t working.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Wednesday evening around 6:30 a van caught fired and burned on Hwy. 136 in Naomi. This is in front of the old lottery/pizza store near York Road.

Wreck / July 16 Vehicle Fire

Vehicle appears to be a Chrysler minivan, no word about the occupant.   Tiny Facebook

Chris BiceDeputies have determined Chris Brice shot himself, by accident, Monday morning – with a gun he wasn’t legally allowed to have.

Brice hasn’t yet been arrested because he fled during treatment at Erlanger.

Good job Walker County Sheriff’s Office sending him to Erlanger, out of state, for treatment, and letting him leave despite the obvious suspiciousness of what happened.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.15

Walker County leaders say industrial facility planned for Noble will now be over 300,000 square feet. Construction on the Audia International site – which will do SOMETHING with plastics production – is tentatively scheduled to start in September.

Audia PlasticsThe county, and the business, have still said nothing about how many jobs might be attached to this expensive project. Reading between the lines it sounds like a warehouse, storage facility, or transfer site – not an active producer. Such an operation would mean just a handful of jobs in return for the county’s multi-million-dollar investment on the old Swanson farm site.

As someone commented on LU Facebook, “smart business would have made them commit in writting to a x amount of jobs before we spend tax dollars.” But nobody’s accusing Commissioner Heiskell or “Development Director” Larry Brooks of being smart with business or anything else.

(Yesterday Volkswagen gave Walker County and Audia Int’l. a good example of how this should work: VW will invest $600 million into an expansion of its Chattanooga plant, adding a second product category and an R&D center for an additional 2,000 jobs. No guessing, no hiding – real figures. That’s needed here, too.)   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Chris BiceMonday morning around 12:45, 28-year-old Christopher Blake Bice of Catoosa County was shot on Cooper Rd. off GA 151.

Bice was wounded in the leg. He initially told deputies someone else fired the shot by accident, then changed stories to say HE fired it by accident, but no weapon or evidence to verify either story has been found.

Bice has a history of drug use and was paroled from prison in January. If investigators determine he had possession of the weapon, a parole violation, he’ll end up back behind bars.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Walker County spends more money it doesn’t have to research walking trails almost nobody wants:

    WQCH Radio, 07/12/14: “WALKER COUNTY GOVERNMENT IS JOINING A MOVEMENT TO STUDY WHETHER THE ‘SILVER COMET TRAIL’ CAN BE EXTENDED FROM CEDARTOWN – THROUGH WALKER – AND INTO CHATTANOOGA. COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL SIGNED AN AGREEMENT TO JOIN CHATTANOOGA, SEVERAL GEORGIA COUNTIES AND THE REGIONAL COMMISSION – IN SEEKING GRANT FUNDING FOR THE STUDY.

Silver Comet Trail

    “THE PRESENT SILVER COMET TRAIL RUNS 61 MILES FROM SMYRNA TO THE ALABAMA LINE NEAR CEDARTOWN. IT FOLLOWS THE ROUTE OF A FORMER SEABOARD AIR LINE PASSENGER TRAIN CALLED THE ‘SILVER COMET’ WHICH STOPPED RUNNING IN 1969. IT’S A MULTI-USE RECREATIONAL TRAIL, 12 FEET WIDE, OPEN TO RUNNERS AND NON-MOTORIZED VEHICLE TRAFFIC.
    “IF THE FUNDING IS AWARDED, WALKER COUNTY WOULD AGREE TO PAY A 20-PERCENT LOCAL MATCH FOR THE FEASIBILITY STUDY.”

That 20% could be $5 or $50,000 – there’s no dollar figure attached to this. More shadiness from the Commissioner’s Office..

Meanwhile the county has spent about five years and hundreds of thousands of dollars building a walking trail on the old Durham rail line on Lookout Mountain, pissing off property owners up there, taking over private land, doing environmental damage, and getting sued by the state and homeowners alike.

Yes let’s do THAT again with another trail.   Tiny Facebook

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