2014
10.31

A house fire in the Catlett area Thursday morning claimed the life of a 60-year-old man, Peter Wattenbarger.

October 30 Catlett House Fire

Per reports, the semi-disabled man’s home at 963 Round Pound Rd. caught fire because of a defective wood heater. (The structure is a complete loss.) He was pulled from the fire by an off duty firefighter, assistant chief Marlin Thompson, but died of his injuries after arriving at Hutcheson.

Mr. Wattenbarger becomes Walker County’s second fire-related death this year and Georgia’s 87th.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Today is Halloween. Scare on the Square will be held tonight at 5 PM, so expect the normal traffic issues and watch for kids on the streets all over town. (It starts at FIVE not FOUR or THREE. FIVE.)

Scare on the Square 2014 Poster

The city says smoking is not allowed on the street during this year’s event and “family appropriate” costumes are encouraged, with public decency laws being enforced. If the weather gets bad enough, SOTS will be moved to next Friday, November 5th.

Other Halloween/fall events today and tomorrow:

Fall Festival at Highlands Church, 6 tonight – rain or shine.

Lake WinnepeSPOOKah at Lake Winnie, 6-11 tonight.

Trunk or Treat at Stone Ridge Fellowship, 2-7 tomorrow.

Pumpkin Smash, tomorrow morning in Chattanooga.

Also tonight the Ramblers will participate in a football game against the scary 7-1 Cartersville Purple Hurricanes, LHS’ final home game of the season.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Several days ago someone started a rumor on social media about a shooting at Ridgeland. Students were warned not to attend class on Wednesday or Thursday because they would be in danger of death. Investigators said the threats were started by a “female former student” who attended class at Ridgeland earlier this year.

Ridgeland Social Media Threat

Walker Sheriff’s Office increased security at the school even while saying the threat was a hoax, and of course nothing happened – but a number of students were absent due to irrational fear.

The odds of being shot at school are about the same as catching Ebola, which is to say it’s not likely at all. But the chances of being shot on a day when a shooting threat has been in the news is much lower than the odds on a regular day.. People who plan to shoot up a school don’t announce it first – and Ridgeland has probably been safer this week than it has in years.

Heck, SRO Deputy Bruce Coker showed up every day to do his job because of the threats. How often does THAT happen?   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2014
10.27

Times Free-Press catches Commissioner Heiskell in a bold-face lie regarding her plan to buy the Covenant Bank property.

Bebe Heiskell

Heiskell said the county faces a $165,000 fine for not giving tax assessors more office space. State officials say “that’s not true” and they could start putting two people in each office instead of spending a half million dollars on a new building.

    “The tax assessor’s office now is located at 201 S. Main St. in LaFayette. Heiskell thinks the building is about 75 years old, and she said the conditions are so poor that mold has grown on the arms of the office’s chairs.”

Mold on the chairs. That’s not a lack of funds, that’s a lack of cleaning – and very hard to believe. Has anybody ever seen these moldy chairs?

The only cure for a county buying property out of control, on the whim of one senile old lady, is to have a multi-member commission. Our taxes (which just shot up) shouldn’t be used to fill one person’s crackpot dreams. Sign the petition demanding a vote to change county government.   Tiny Facebook

Friday morning a Rome judge delayed the foreclosure of Hutcheson (again) until early January, saying Erlanger hasn’t given the community enough advance notice of its plans.

Erlanger at Hutcheson

Meanwhile, Hutcheson’s debts to Erlanger and Regions Bank continue to get bigger – leaving more for the counties to cover once a foreclosure occurs.   Tiny Facebook

Employees of El Pueblito Restaurant say the business has closed its doors for good. Workers were called in Saturday and given all pay they were owed.

One Eleven, which occupied the same downtown building, announced its closure almost a year ago to the day.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
10.25

Damon JonesTragic news from Naomi.

15-year-old Damon Jones died in a 4-wheeler accident Thursday night. Jones, a 10th grader at LHS, was riding an ATV near Mt. Zion Church off Dunwoody Rd. with another boy and was killed when he struck a cable hanging across a parking lot.

An extremely sad, terrible situation.

Jones’ death has devastated fellow students at LaFayette High School, many of whom didn’t attend Friday as they dealt with the loss. Per Channel 3, an account to help pay for Jones’ final arrangements has been set up at the Bank of LaFayette.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Rumors verified, per WQCH Radio: Commissioner Heiskell has offered to BUY the former Stearns Bank/Covenant Bank building in Rock Spring, and is willing to spend at least a half million dollars to get it.

Covenant Bank Building

She says the county needs it for the tax office and will probably bulldoze old Kitchen’s Clinic in town where the tax assessor is located now.

    WQCH Radio, 10/23/14: “WALKER COUNTY GOVERNMENT IS NEGOTIATING A POSSIBLE PURCHASE OF THE FORMER STEARNS BANK LOCATION AT ROCK SPRING.
    “COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL SAID WEDNESDAY THAT COUNTY OFFICES INCLUDING THE TAX COMMISSIONER AND ASSESSORS OFFICES, NOW LOCATED IN THE FORMER KITCHENS CLINIC BUILDING IN LAFAYETTE, MAY BE MOVED TO THE ROCK SPRING LOCATION IF A DEAL IS STRUCK.
    “THE COUNTY INITIALLY ASKED STERNS TO DONATE THE EMPTY BANK LOCATION FOR A TAX WRITE-OFF, BUT THEY REFUSED. SHE SAID THE BANK CAME BACK RECENTLY WITH AN OFFER TO SELL THE BUILDING TO THE COUNTY FOR 950-THOUSAND DOLLARS. THE COUNTY COUNTERED WITH AN OFFER OF 500-THOUSAND. NEGOTIATIONS ARE STILL UNDERWAY.
    “WALKER COUNTY IS UNDER A CONSENT ORDER FROM THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE TO HIRE FOUR MORE APPRAISERS IN THE ASSESSORS OFFICE, AND THE ‘KITCHEN’S CLINIC’ ANNEX BUILDING IN LAFAYETTE IS NOT LARGE ENOUGH TO ACCOMMODATE THEM. HEISKELL SAID THE FORMER CLINIC ALSO HAS A MOLD PROBLEM AND NEEDS TO BE EITHER GUTTED AND REMODELED, OR TORN DOWN FOR COURTHOUSE PARKING SPACE.
    “SHE REFUTED RUMORS THAT THE COUNTY HAS OFFERED 2 TO 3 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE STERNS BANK BUILDING. THE BANK VACATED THE ROCK SPRING LOCATION THIS SUMMER, CLOSING THE GEORGIA OPERATIONS IT ACQUIRED AFTER COVENANT BANK FAILED.
    “HEISKELL SAID THE 17-THOUSAND SQUARE FOOT BUILDING AT ROCK SPRING COULD BE A BARGAIN, AND MAY SOLVE THE COUNTY’S OFFICE SPACE PROBLEM FOR LESS MONEY THAN BUILDING NEW OFFICES. SHE ALSO ADDED THAT THE COUNTY COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE WILL REMAIN IN LAFAYETTE, AS THE SEAT OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT.”

Reports from a year or so ago say the building cost about $2 million to construct, but that was before the housing and building market collapsed… It MIGHT be a good real estate deal, but Walker County supposedly doesn’t have this kind of money. We’re broke and raised taxes and have a hospital to support, remember?

The county has plenty of unused space. What about putting some of the assessors in one of the empty community centers, or one of the cabins at Mountain Cove Farms? Or park a trailer next to the office building on Duke and Withers Bebe bought years ago for her own new office and never moved into… None of that would cost a half million dollars.

In addition to what the building will cost to buy, taking this property into government hands means it won’t be taxed anymore. The bank’s 2014 property tax bill is $19,103.12 . That’s how much the county general government and local schools will lose out on EVERY YEAR FROM NOW ON if Bebe takes over this building.

That’s almost enough to pay another deputy or a part-time school teacher.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
10.22

LU’s Sole Commissioner Vote Petition has now been signed by 1,750 people online, plus another 200+ who have signed in person.

King George II

The petition will be closing on November 11th, two months since it began. If you haven’t signed yet or know someone who wants to sign but hasn’t, time is running out.

Paper petitions are still available at Dinner Bell in Flintstone and Catlett Grocery on Roundpond Rd. (Dinner Bell alone had collected 70 signatures by the beginning of this week.)   Tiny Facebook

    WQCH Radio, 10/21/14: “THE GEORGIA SUPREME COURT HAS UPHELD DEATH SENTENCES FOR THE MAN CONVICTED IN BRUTAL WALKER COUNTY DOUBLE-MURDERS.

Mountain Top Boys Home Villanow

    “DONNIE ALLEN HULETT IS SENTENCED TO DIE FOR THE 2002 MURDERS OF BROTHERS, LARRY AND ARVINE PHELPS, AS THEY PERFORMED VOLUNTEER WORK AT [Mountain Top Boys Home in] VILLANOW. THE MEN WERE GUNNED DOWN AND BLUDGEONED FOR THEIR PICKUP TRUCK, WHICH WAS STOLEN.
    “ON OTHER CHARGES AGAINST HULETT, THE HIGH COURT SENT HIS CASE BACK FOR RE-SENTENCING, BUT THE TWO DEATH SENTENCES FOR THE MURDERS, WERE ALLOWED TO STAND.”

Chattanooga media says the judges indicated there should be MORE punishment for the killer than he was originally given, considering he killed AND robbed the men. His original sentence was death, so it’s hard to add much meaningful punishment beyond that – the extra sentencing is mostly a formality.   Tiny Facebook

Corinth Rd Wreck October 20th

Wreck Monday night on Corinth Rd. around 8 PM. No details, but eyewitnesses say the male driver “seemed to be OK” afterwards.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
10.18

The intersection of Foster Blvd. and the 27 bypass in front of LaFayette Post Office became the scene of another accident yesterday afternoon – the second wreck there in two days.

October 17 Post Office Wreck

That accident and a handful of other incidents kept Walker County Emergency Services busy all day long. Wrecks in front of Ridgeland and in front of Chickamauga McDonalds, a child eating laundry soap in Rock Spring, and three home football games played at the same time inside the county all spread ambulances thin in the evening.   Tiny Facebook

Speaking of medical emergencies: Will a Gilbert teacher give your child ebola next week as the rumor mill claims?

Short answer: no.   Tiny Facebook

Three home football games were played simultaneously last night inside Walker County, and all three host teams (including two celebrating homecoming) were soundly defeated.

October 17 Football Ramblers vs Pickens

Facing the Pickens Dragons for the first time, LaFayette was defeated 34 to 69. LHS is now 2-4 for the season with three games remaining. Next week is Gilmer in an away game, then Cartersville at home and Ridgeland away.

Ridgeland was also defeated in its homecoming game versus Heritage, the team that beat LaFayette last week. Ridgeland (3-4) scored 16 points to the Generals’ 31. Adding insult to score-injury, the Panthers’ own home crowd booed the team (or possibly its coach) at halftime. (Not sure what led to that, but it’s Ridgeland so who cares.)

And Gordon Lee was shut out by Chattooga, 30-0. Gordon Lee is 2-6 for the year, one of only two teams LaFayette has triumphed over so far this season. An all-around mediocre (bordering on terrible) year for high school football in Walker County.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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