Merry Christmas from the Underground.
LU will be on break until the middle of next week. Until then, have a wonderful Holiday.
Right before Thanksgiving, Walker County Development Authority proposed leasing the multi-million-dollar Mountain Cove Farms property to a woman from Tennessee for $2,000 a month.
The Authority decided to hold off at the time, delaying a decision for a future meeting. That meeting was held yesterday in the Civic Center – at the convenient time of 9 AM.
The Development Authority didn’t immediately reject wedding planner Lea Kapherr’s unsolicited offer to rent the farm for $24,000 a year, but didn’t accept it either. Instead, the Authority decided, in a rare smart decision, to follow the ethically best path of taking bids on the land until February so the best possible deal can be found.
During the meeting it was said Rock City may also be interested in the farm, but no dollar figures were attached to their rumored bid.
Ms. Kapherr’s proposal involves a newly formed company, an LLC, which means the financials and owners and even officers are shielded by law. There’s no way to find out who else is involved unless the bidder willingly reveals it. The Development Authority SHOULD make that a requirement, not just for this person but for any entity seeking to do a business deal with the county.
All else aside, Kapherr’s offer forced the Authority to open this up for public bids.
Maybe that was all they intended in the first place. A bid so low that it forced the county to actually do this in the open, legally, instead of taking some slightly higher lowball offer from a friend of Bebe or some campaign contributor of Shannon Whitfield’s.
Since the farm now legally belongs to the Walker County Development Authority, any money that comes in from leasing it to a private business would go back to that entity, not the county itself. WCDA buys land and gives out tax credits to companies like Audia. Regardless of who ends up renting the land, it do much for the county budget other than remove some strain of keeping the place going.
LU EXCLUSIVE: Bebe Heiskell has issued a memo to departing Fire Chief Randy Camp, thanking him for his years of service to the county.
In the same letter she confirms plans to consolidate the fire department with other emergency services, 911, CERT, etc. under the leadership of loyal supporter David Ashburn.
Ashburn was interim sheriff in the early 90’s for a few months. He’s run 911 since we’ve had 911, was manager of Mountain Cove Farms for a time, is still chief of the county’s redundant “codes enforcement” police department…
He was on the Hutcheson board when terrible decisions were made there, and still sits on the Water Authority board. In many ways he’s Bebe’s man, in whatever place she puts him – and he’ll keep dancing to her music even after she leaves office.
(Ashburn is also the one who said after the 2011 tornadoes that it was regrettable nobody in Walker was killed so we could get more attention/assistance.)
Shannon Whitfield can reverse this last-minute decision and name his own fire chief after being sworn in next week, but isn’t expected to do so.
Former leaders of now-defunct Hutcheson Hospital may have to pay for their actions afterall.
Federal Department of Labor investigators are seeking information about employee health insurance plans that weren’t paid and retirement funds that may have been misused.
They’re focusing on ex-Hutcheson CEO Farrell Hayes, ex-COO Kevin Hopkins, and onetime hospital lawyer Don Oliver.
All three would look great in prison. (Or BACK in prison; Don Oliver spent several years behind bars in the late 80’s after being convicted of drug smuggling.)
Remember back when LU was the only place suggesting there was bad behavior among the leadership at Hutcheson, and everybody got mad because we’re awful and shouldn’t say stuff like that?
There’s nothing new under the sun..
Commissioner-elect Whitfield is seeking to fill several county jobs(?) ahead of taking office.
Whitfield will need positions filled quick after becoming commissioner, but it MAY violate open records laws to ask for government job applications with a private e-mail address, and putting these on Facebook absolutely does NOT count as a legal posting of an open job.
(Will the Walker County Republicans who just raked a presidential candidate over the coals for using a private e-mail for official business defend this? Probably so.)
Also are “Landfill” and “Codes Enforcement” specific jobs, or just departments? Is he looking for leaders or workers? Are there job descriptions for these positions?
Whitfield’s omission of “fire chief” on this job list strengthens fears that he’ll leave David Ashburn in charge of the fire department.
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