2016
09.24

Bebe Heiskell didn’t include a court-ordered $8.7 million payment to Erlanger Hospital in her 2017 budget, because she’s not planning to pay it.

Hutcheson Legal Strategy - I Can't Hear You

Heiskell’s plan to deal with Hutcheson debts has been consistent: pretending it doesn’t exist. The legal equivalent of a kid plugging his ears and going NAH NAH NAH when asked why he broke a window.

(She took a similar approach to the problems that led to Hutcheson’s demise in the first place, which is how we got to this point.)

In a “community meeting” Bebe claimed she’s studying several ways to deal with the Hutcheson debt, but she wants to keep battling it in court.

She goes on to blame the county’s problems on everything from the school system to juvenile justice and claims, again, that Audia will solve every problem despite having less than 50 employees – most from out of state.

As for Bebe’s next county budget…

It’s not YOUR money, Bebe. IT IS NOT YOUR DAMN MONEY.   Tiny Facebook

Last weekend a pipeline leak and shutdown in Alabama threatened to disrupt gasoline supplies for much of the eastern US.

West LaFayette Pit Stop - No Gas

Fears of gasoline shortages led to runs on the pump, which of course resulted in some temporary outages in stations around the area – but no gas station was out of fuel long, as deliveries (from further away) continued.

Georgia law prohibits gasoline price gouging during emergencies, but Gov. Deal signed a redundant executive order Monday saying the same thing – gas stations can raise prices but not in a ridiculous, abusive amount to take advantage of the situation.

Deal’s office rightly said we wouldn’t run out of gas state-wide if people only buy the amounts they would normally purchase instead of panicking and buying extra for no reason.

Now that initial concerns have faded, the supply situation seems to have stabilized – although prices are still about 25 cents a gallon higher than they were before the problem began.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

A rollover accident Wednesday night near the 193/341 intersection (the one on our end) sent four young men to the hospital.

Wreck at 193 and 341 / September 21 2016  Wreck at 193 and 341 / September 21 2016

Four boys riding in a Jeep Cherokee ended up with minor injuries, despite one passenger not wearing a seatbelt.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
09.17

Crime in the Rossville area came to an end Thursday with the opening of Walker County’s new unmanned sheriff station.

Rossville Sheriff Satellite Office Ribbon Cutting / WDEF

The satellite office in Ridgeland Business Park off Wilson Road, which was remodeled with magic beans instead of scarce county tax dollars, has put fear in the hearts of every potential thief, drug user, and child molester in North Walker County – all of whom packed up and left the state after hearing of the office’s ribbon cutting ceremony and the dignitaries who appeared in support.

Walker County has no additional officers to assign to the station, but Sheriff Wilson said “eventually we might be able to have a part time clerk here – if funds are available.”

Ridgeland Business Park

For now, the office will primarily serve as a badly needed bathroom stop and free coffee area for deputies who would otherwise be stuck on the roads in their brand new patrol cars.

(Isn’t it amazing how quickly Bebe can get something done in an election year when she’s struggling and needs support from a popular Sheriff with political capital to burn?)   Tiny Facebook

Nataliegh & Jocelyn Long

Services for Nataleigh and Jocelyn Long, the two girls killed Tuesday in a house fire, will be held at Wallis-Wilbanks.

Family visitation will be tomorrow from noon to 8 PM, funerals at 5 Monday night.

A bakesale fundraiser for the girls’ family was held Friday at Saddle Ridge where the younger of the two attended school. Donations are still being accepted at the school for anyone who couldn’t make it to that event.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

The iconic 1940’s glass block facade of the old Coca-Cola building that houses LaFayette PD will soon be gone, replaced by generic, modern plate glass windows.

    WQCH Radio, 09/14/16: “”THAT ORIGINAL ART-DECO GLASS BLOCK DECORATION ON THE FRONT WALL OF LAFAYETTE’S PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING, IS ABOUT TO BE REPLACED WITH A MODERN LOOK.

1940s/1950's Coca Cola Bottling Works - LaFayette Public Safety Building

    “THE 1938 BUILDING, WHICH ORIGINALLY HOUSED LAFAYETTE’S OWN COCA COLA BOTTLING PLANT, HAS SUFFERED FROM RAIN WATER LEAKAGE IN THE PAST FEW YEARS, AND POLICE CHIEF BENJIE CLIFT SAID THE OLD GLASS BLOCKS ARE TO BLAME. RAIN SENDS WATER DOWN THE WALL AND INTO THE LOBBY FLOOR, AND THE MOISTURE IS ATTRACTING INSECTS AND SPIDERS, CLIFT SAID.
    “THE CITY COUNCIL APPROVED A LOW BID MONDAY NIGHT, TO REPLACE THE ORIGINAL GLASS BLOCKS WITH BRONZE REFLECTIVE PLATE-GLASS, AT A COST OF JUST OVER 22-THOUSAND DOLLARS.”

Wonder what the cost difference would be to just put in new not-leaking glass block?

The city already ruined the historic character of this building with the metal peaked roof and vinyl siding added a few years back to fix a leaking roof; this just adds insult to historical injury.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
09.15

Two children lost to fire in Chickamauga.

Nataliegh & Jocelyn Long

A little after 6 AM Tuesday, Walker County fire crews were called to a trailer fire on Carabou Lane, near Marble Top Road.

Despite the best rescue efforts of firefighters and family members, two girls – six-year-old Nataliegh Long and her niece, 9-month-old Jocelyn Long – did not survive the blaze.

Two adults in the trailer got out, along with three other kids ages 9, 7, and 4. All were treated for smoke inhalation. A county fireman burned on the face during the attempted rescue was also treated and released.

Caraboun Ln Trailer Fire - September 13 2016 / NewsChannel9

An official cause of the fire has not been determined by investigators, but per Sheriff Wilson, mom/step-grandma Heather Long blames the blaze on a tea candle she lit while waking kids up for school. That candle set a couch on fire while she was out at the car and quickly took the house up with it.

    Chattanooga Times Free-Press, 09/13/16: “..[Sheriff] Wilson said Richard Long ran out the back of the trailer, hustled to the front and broke a window. He and Heather Long managed to pull out three of the children. ‘The father was instrumental in bringing these children out of the home,’ Wilson said.”

Services for the girls who died, Nataliegh and Jocelyn, will be handled at Wallis-Wilbanks – details TBA.

Over the last few days nearly $7,000 has been raised for the family through a single GoFundMe; donations can also be made through Saddle Ridge in Rock Spring. The school will also have a fundraiser bakesale for the Longs this Friday, if you’d like to help out in that way.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

When Commissioner Heiskell announced intentions to “cut” taxes, Shannon Whitfield demanded she also lower the county’s budget by at least the same amount.

Bebe responded by doing what he asked – releasing a budget $600,000 lower than last year’s.

Bankrupt the County They Said

Much of her savings (on paper, they don’t follow a budget) come from cutting more money out of the road barn and county vehicle maintenance, two areas where the county’s already not spending enough.

In the same budget she finds an extra $300,000 for the Sheriff’s Office and adds $165,000 to the juvenile court.

    “Shannon Whitfield, the Republican party candidate, said Heiskell’s budget is too thin. It is four pages long. By comparison, Catoosa County’s budget is 252 pages long.”

He’s got a point there, but it doesn’t really matter since Bebe doesn’t stick to a budget anyway. At the end of the year she’ll revise it to match whatever they end up spending.

The only cure for THAT is to end sole commissioner, something Mr. Whitfield doesn’t seem especially enthusiastic about.   Tiny Facebook

Saddle Ridge 55 MPH School Zone Sign

An online petition asking GDOT to install a red light on Hwy. 27 in front of Saddle Ridge school has now been signed by almost 400 people.

School Superintendent Raines and the principal of Saddle Ridge both say they support the petition and want to see the light installed, but so far there’s been no comment from the county (Bebe) or state legislators (Mullis, Tarvin) whose support could push it over the edge.

The petition administrator tells LU she heard back from GDOT about it after talking to the newspaper, and they told her a study can be done about installing a light IF the county will commit to paying the utility bills for a light if they decide to install one.

Saddle Ridge Light Petition - GDOT Response

That means this falls back on Bebe, or her successors, and/or the school board. Nothing will happen until one of them promises to pay the power bill for a light.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
09.12

On Thursday, sources inside Walker County government reported certain county employees had been advised to get their paychecks to the bank ASAP on Friday, because of fears the county’s account might not have enough cash on hand to make payroll.

Serious Bebe

Employees reported on Friday having no issues with their checks, so the county did have enough funds on hand to cover payroll – this time anyway. But Walker County’s financial situation is precarious, teetering on the edge.

LU HAS confirmed heads of various county departments were asked to submit payroll early this week and warned that no invoices will be paid from the county’s accounts until mid-October unless approved by the CPA. So money is tight, even in the best scenario.

Bebe’s run us right out of money again – just as she’s announcing plans to cut taxes hoping to extend her political career.

From the same braintrust that brought us Hutcheson a year ago…   Tiny Facebook

How often do we see political candidates hammering stakes and putting up their own campaign signs?

Perry Lamb Installing Sign

In addition to his door-to-door visits with voters, Perry Lamb has been out delivering and putting up his own yard signs in recent weeks, usually followed closely by someone working for his opponents looking to erect one of theirs.

We can’t fully judge a candidate on their campaign, but the way Lamb, Whitfield, and Heiskell are campaigning and putting up signs shows some clear differences in their styles.

Bebe’s signs go up in the middle of the night, erected by county employees and people loyal to her because she spends county money with them or their businesses. She treats the county as an extension of herself and her campaign and invests little into it personally, yet reaps the benefits of political office.

Perry Lamb Installing SignShannon Whitfield’s signs are put up by his “advisor” friends, the same people who paid for the signs, who likely decided on the design of those signs and picked where they’d go. They’re out doing the work while he sits back and waits on someone to tell him he’s won the election, after which he’ll let those same people decide what he’ll do in office and have voters talk to those “advisors” when they need something. He’s invested almost no time and absolutely no money into the campaign to get him elected.

Perry Lamb is out hammering up his own damn signs, which he paid for out of pocket, and talking to the voters directly about their wants and needs. He works a full time job in a hospital bringing babies into the world then goes out after work to campaign. And hopefully when elected he’ll take the same approach to working and listening that he’s taking now.   Tiny Facebook

After ten months, LaFayette has finally found its new recreation director.

Jason Shattuck

Jason Shattuck, a LaFayette native who’s worked in recent years at the Dalton Recreation Department, started with the city last Monday.

    WQCH Radio, 09/07/16: “JASON SHATTUCK HAS BEEN HIRED AS THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE’S NEW RECREATION DIRECTOR, STARTING MONDAY.
    “HE IS A NATIVE OF LAFAYETTE AND A 1996 GRADUATE OF LAFAYETTE HIGH. JASON ATTENDED GEORGIA SOUTHERN AND GRADUATED WITH A BS IN COMMERCIAL RECREATION AND TOURISM. HE HAS WORKED AS A YOUTH SPORTS COORDINATOR AT CHEROKEE GEORGIA AND IN SEVERAL SUPERVISORY POSITIONS IN THE DALTON REC DEPARTMENT.
    “HE IS MARRIED TO JENNIFER COLE SHATTACK AND THEY HAVE AN 11 YEAR OLD SON.
    “CITY MANAGER DAVID HAMILTON SAID ‘WE ARE EXCITED TO BRING JASON’S PASSION AND VISION FOR GROWING THE RECREATION DEPARTMENT AND ELEVATING THE QUALIFY OF LIFE IN OUR COMMUNITY’.”

He sounds like a great fit; someone with the experience/background we need to have a top-notch rec department that meets the needs of every resident.

(Shattuck was the Dalton Rec Department’s facilities guy, overseeing maintenance and construction of buildings and amenities for that community. One of his most recent projects was the expansion of a public skate park – something badly needed in LaFayette.)

Shattuck replaces long-time recreation director Patti Scott who was abruptly fired by the city last November. Her job has been held temporarily since then by the city’s information technology guy, Scott Underwood.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
09.06

Commissioner Heiskell has clarified, in another press release, how much she actually intends to cut taxes. Her “almost a mil” cut is actually 3/4 of a mil – .754 mil less than last year’s tax millage rate of 11.845 for people living inside cities.

Puffy Bebe(The county tax rate outside cities was 8.592 last year and will drop by the same amount. One mil is a dollar on every thousand in value for property appraisal.)

Last year she raised taxes by 1 mil to pay back a 30-year loan issued on her behalf by the Development Authority; this cut doesn’t make up for that, or the huge increase she handed down the year before – and many people will be paying higher taxes this year than last because their property values have been marked higher.

Future tax increases will also be hard to avoid after Heiskell leaves office, since she’s left the county in such a state of financial ruin.

Bottom line, your taxes have gone up, and up, and up, and won’t be any better this year for most living inside Walker County despite this election year trick.   Tiny Facebook

Heiskell’s two election opponents have responded to the news of her tiny tax cut.

Perry Lamb says it’s a reactive response to the pending vote that doesn’t go far enough to fix past tax increases and waste.

Shannon Whitfield told the Times Free Press that Heiskell should cut her budget before cutting taxes since she can’t manage to go an entire year without taking out a loan to pay expenses not covered by taxes.

Whitfield Facebook Tax Cut Response

Whitfield additionally called out Bebe on Facebook for not promptly responding to questions from reporters – somewhat ironic considering he’s ignored multiple e-mails from LU and questions from Walker County citizens for more than six months now.   Tiny Facebook

Monday night a tragic accident on Halls Valley Drive claimed the life of a young father from Trion.

Joshua Yarbrough

Details of the accident haven’t been made available, but we know the victim is 30-year-old Joshua Yarbrough, who grew up in LaFayette and has family here.

His services will be today and Wednesday.   Tiny Facebook

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