2016
06.23

Commissioner Heiskell’s latest plan for the county? Selling a (literal) pile of garbage.

Walker Co Messenger: Landfill Sale Bids (06-22-16)

Walker County Landfill is now listed for sale. Bebe’s taking bids until mid-July.

In the last year Heiskell has taken out $1 million in loans to expand the dump, which can only accept construction debris. The dump also loses several hundred thousand dollars a year from its operations, despite being of little benefit to the actual county since it only buries construction debris – a majority of which come from outside the county. (Household trash left at the dump is trucked out of state and has been for the last twenty years.)

The landfill and its losses have been mentioned multiple times on LU, and this year have become a point of criticism from Heiskell’s primary challenger, Shannon Whitfield.

Is this how Bebe negates Whitfield’s critique? Does she have a plan to offload the money-losing dump, cheap, to one of her regular campaign contributors? Maybe she’s legitimately trying to sell the asset to make money for the county…

Or it’s an election-year scam to make voters think she’s trying, when she’s absolutely not.   Tiny Facebook

NWGA’s favorite soap opera, As The Hospital Burns, continues.

Open Hallway at Hutcheson

Catoosa County Commissioners agreed Tuesday night to pay Erlanger $6.25 million to settle its share of the outstanding Hutcheson debt. They save about $2 million over what’s owed, presumably for agreeing to settle instead of fighting in court as Walker County continues to do.

Walker County’s court battle, meanwhile, degrades further into something akin to a child sticking his fingers in his ears and going NAH NAH NAH when asked a question.

Members of the Hospital Authority (which owns/owned Hutcheson) have finally demanded Walker pay up its portion of the Erlanger debts, but Walker County’s hired-gun lawyer Stuart James says Authority chairman Darrell Weldon’s order is illegal and invalid.

Bebe GlareThe hospital authority’s lawyer, Tom Weldon, in return suggests Walker County’s bizarre actions are meant to protect a certain county leader’s reelection campaign.

Before Hutcheson closed Bebe could at least attempt to argue her poor decisions were meant to keep the place going. Now, with Hutcheson existing only on paper and the actual hospital controlled by another unrelated company, the situation is (As Weldon says) just about Heiskell delaying the inevitable until after the election – or possibly about her going senile..

Walker will end up owing Erlanger all $8.5 million plus Erlanger’s legal fees PLUS our own legal fees for fighting it… When it all hits the fan in November or so. We might also end up owing the interest on that debt Erlanger was at one point willing to overlook.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

During the last week, three men in Walker and Catoosa have been arrested on charges of child molestation.

Cagney Dyer

Cagney Darail Dyer, 28, of Rossville was arrested in Walker County on Saturday, hiding in a friend’s bathroom, after a Catoosa mom said he molested her daughter. (Dyer has some ties to LaFayette as well.)

Investigators say the child recounts abuses at Dyer’s hand from March of last year until this month.

Leonard Curry  Richard Smiley

Leonard Raymond Curry, 18, of Ringgold [left] arrested for allegedly molesting a middle school girl. The child he’s accused of abusing may be pregnant.

Richard Donovan Smiley, 24 [right], also arrested for molestation, involving a 14-year-old runaway found with him in a hotel room at the Ringgold Super 8, where he lived and was working as a manager.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
06.20

Hutcheson Titanic Sinking

Hutcheson has officially abandoned its idiotic lawsuit against Erlanger for allegedly failing to make the hospital profitable.

Judge Harold Murphy recently ruled, in part, that Hutcheson’s own paperwork shows its claim to be false and the now-bankrupt hospital WAS making more money than before (and obviously after) under Erlanger management.

With the core of its civil case hollowed out, the hospital authority – independent from Walker County’s ongoing case – wisely decided to throw in the towel.

Hutcheson - Where Babies CAME From

Meanwhile, anyone who set foot inside Hutcheson during the last few years it was open is at risk of being called by a collections agency known as Nationwide Recovery Services, demanding payment for bills already paid, covered by insurance, or never billed by the hospital initially.

The Times Free Press says they’ve heard from many about this, and LU has heard from at least ten more.

Most of the people commenting to LU say they asked Nationwide Recovery for a bill in the mail and never got anything. If they call you, demand they send it that way – by registered letter so they can’t claim it was sent when it wasn’t – and see if they follow through.

Nationwide Recovery has a bad reputation and a bad rating from the BBB. They’re not good people to deal with.   Tiny Facebook

** WARNING: POSSIBLY OFFENSIVE IMAGE FOLLOWS **

Someone’s stabbing horses in Trion – with a spear?

One animal involved in the incident on Old Airport Rd. died, the other was injured.

Trion Dead Abuse Horse

Someone in the neighborhood reported that the animals were being abused/neglected by their owner for some time before the tragic stabbing. Per this concerned observer, the animals were underfed and often wandering loose.

If that’s the case, there may be more to this situation than just a random act of animal abuse – hopefully GA Department of Agriculture will be involved and get to the bottom of what’s going on.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

FirstBank LogoAre you a FirstBank customer?

You might want to keep an eye on your accounts.

Dozens of customers of the Tennessee-based bank (which recently bought out Northwest Georgia Bank) say they’ve found suspicious charges made in their names during the last week.   Tiny Facebook

Area youth charity seeks help buying a new van.

Mountain Top Boys Home Villanow

Mountain Top Boys Home in Villanow, a group home for at-risk boys, has received some funding to buy a new van for its residents – but doesn’t have sufficient money to get a van that meets their requirements.

If half the people who read this on LU Facebook and here on the blog send them $5, they can get what they need and then some.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
06.17

bebe_ghoulIn August 2012, Commissioner Heiskell took out a $2-million loan to cover the county’s expenses for the rest of the year, paying back the money from the next year’s tax revenue.

She did the same thing in 2013 ($3 million), 2014 ($7.7 million), and last year ($10 million). Last September she repaid 2016’s loan by selling bonds, which will be paid back for the next thirty years.

Last week she took out another $5 million loan for this year, which will be paid back from next year’s tax revenue – money coming out of the NEXT commissioner’s budget.

    WQCH Radio, 06/11/16: “AT THE WEEKLY WALKER COUNTY COMMISSIONER’S MEETING, BEBE HEISKELL APPROVED A 5-MILLION DOLLAR ‘LINE OF CREDIT’ IN A TAX ANTICIPATION NOTE, TO COVER GENERAL EXPENSES. SHE NOTED THAT THIS YEAR’S LOAN IS HALF THE AMOUNT BORROWED LAST YEAR.
    “THE COUNTY FREQUENTLY BORROWS MONEY DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS, IN ANTICIPATION OF PAYING IT BACK WHEN PROPERTY TAXES BEGIN ROLLING-IN. THE NOTE MUST BE REPAID BY DECEMBER 31st OF THIS YEAR. THE INTEREST RATE IS 4.25 PERCENT.
    “COUNTIES ARE ALLOWED TO BORROW TEMPORARY FUNDING FOR OPERATIONS UP TO 75-PERCENT OF ANTICIPATED TAX COLLECTIONS. HEISKELL SAID ‘WE WILL DRAW THIS DOWN AS NEEDED’. “

Bebe’s legacy of destruction continues unchecked, thanks to the sole commissioner system.

Even after you vote somebody out (which ain’t that easy), you can’t just undo the damage they’ve done.. The only way to fix the potential for this happening again is to put an end to the system that enables abuse.   Tiny Facebook

Details of a major wreck in front of the Post Office on Wednesday have begun to emerge.

Wreck - Bypass at Grant St - June 15 2016 / Tyler Bishop

Per reports, a work van (maybe a city vehicle) was pulling out into the bypass from Foster Blvd, blocking the view of a Ford truck coming off Grant St and a Volvo heading south on the bypass.

Wreck - Bypass at Grant St - June 15 2016 / Tyler Bishop Wreck - Bypass at Grant St - June 15 2016 / Tyler Bishop

The Volvo t-boned the truck and broke it apart; two occupants of the truck and the driver of the Volvo were all hospitalized (names and conditions not currently known), and the road was closed for a while as debris was removed.

[All photos courtesy Tyler Bishop]   Tiny Facebook

Richardson Family RICO ArrestsA massive corruption prove into theft from Floyd County’s school system has led to the arrests of ten people, charged under state anti-racketeering laws. More arrests (or additional charges for those already arrested) are expected to follow.

Most suspects are in the Richardson family, and many live in Chattooga County.

Police say ex school maintenance director Derry Richardson stole millions of dollars from Floyd County students; other arrests appear related to how that stolen money was spent.

Richardson and several relatives were charged in civil court a year ago for allegedly stealing about $600,000 from the school system; now he and his alleged co-conspirators face felony charges for allegedly swiping millions.

Most of the group is now out on bond.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
06.14

Another article about the sole commissioner vote makes it appear that Steve Tarvin’s position on changing county government is softening and he’s now willing to listen to constituents. Hopefully his actions will match his words here.

John Deffenbaugh

Representative Deffenbaugh, who would also have to vote on a bill to change county government, is however digging in and saying he won’t support bringing in a board unless the commissioner – whoever it ends up being – asks him to. (Just another reminder why we need a commissioner who will demand this be done.)

Rep. Deffendum is an empty suit attached to an empty head – and now there’s talk of a recall vote if he doesn’t give a better response to the voters’ wishes.   Tiny Facebook

Hutcheson Front Steps - October 21 2015 / Times Free Press

Walker County’s latest legal approach to avoid paying $8.7 million in Hutcheson debt owed to Erlanger seems to be hiding from it.

According to Walker County Attorney Don Oliver, the county won’t have to pay what it owes if the Authority never calls in the debt:

    WQCH Radio, 06/11/16: “[Don] OLIVER BELIEVES THAT THE COUNTY REMAINS EXEMPT FROM ERLANGER’S LEGAL ATTEMPTS TO EXACT PAYMENT OF A LOAN GUARANTEE, DUE TO SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY.
    “‘THE ONLY WAY THAT WALKER COUNTY CAN BE FORCED TO PAY THAT DEBT IS IF THE HOSPITAL AUTHORITY DEMANDS PAYMENT’, OLIVER SAID – ‘AND THE HOSPITAL AUTHORITY IS NOT DEMANDING PAYMENT'”

How will the county keep the authority from demanding payment? By keeping the authority board from meeting.

Two Hospital Authority meetings were scheduled in the last week to discuss a settlement proposal, and both were canceled because a majority of board members – Bebe’s hand-picked friends on the Hospital Authority, Walker County’s half of the board – didn’t show up.

Board members said they don’t want to have an illegal meeting, because there’s some line in the board rules that says they have to get a mailed notice of meetings or something and they were contacted by e-mail. (But they sure didn’t mind being outside the law when the hospital was taking insurance premiums out of employee checks and not paying for employee insurance.. Or when they agreed to take a loan from Erlanger they had seemingly no intention of ever repaying.)

John Culpepper / Times Free Press

Every week they don’t meet to discuss the inevitable close of the unwinnable legal battle against Erlanger, every day the legal fight continues, will ultimately cost Walker County more in legal fees and in interest on the debts owed.

It seems that long-time Bebe ally John “Damn Fine Job” Culpepper is the board member pushing the others to skip meetings. He broke the law to campaign for her when he was Chickamauga’s city manager – something he freely admitted to when questioned in 2012 – and now he’s going to “die” on this hill, politically, for her benefit.

Is Bebe trying to push this problem off on a future commissioner, or just kicking it down the road long enough to get herself reelected before she makes us pay for her mistakes?   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Sunday night fire crews from Walker County, Walker State Prison, and Whitfield County were called to a structure fire on Hall Drive, off Highway 201 near the county line.

There have been no reports of exactly what happened, but neighbors say a long-empty home in the old Reo subdivision burned to the ground. They suggest it may have been a meth lab explosion, but that tends to be the first conclusion in any unexplainable fire.   Tiny Facebook

Gabe Howell of Trion was drafted Saturday by the Atlanta Braves.

Gabe Howell

The Trion HS graduate is considered one of the country’s best high school level players; back in the winter he signed with Chipola College but may put college on hold as he joins the struggling Atlanta team’s farm system.

The way the Braves are doing lately (at risk of setting records as the worst team in modern baseball history), they might as well skip minor league ball with him and just add him to the team.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
06.09

Wednesday afternoon a man visiting the area died in a tragic crash on Corinth Rd.

Corinth Rd Wreck - June 8 2016 / Tyler Bishop

According to State Patrol investigators, a yet-unidentified 42-year-old man “new to the area” driving an older Jeep rolled it over after driving onto the shoulder and overcorrecting. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Accident occurred about 4 PM, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

[Photo courtesy Tyler Bishop.]   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

GE Appliances Sign After Haier Buyout / WDRB

Haier executives from China visited Kentucky on Monday to make official the Asian manufacturer’s buyout of GE Appliances.

Final sale price for the now-former General Electric division, which includes subsidiary Roper Corp in LaFayette, was $5.6 billion – $200 million more than initially proposed. Signage and Web sites have already been changed to reflect the company’s new ownership.

GE Appliances Web Site After Buyout

Company leaders and union officials both say no layoffs are expected, and most of the conglomerate’s 6,000+ US workers won’t notice any big changes – at least not in the immediate future.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Walker County’s countersuit against Erlanger in the Hutcheson case has been dismissed by a federal judge.

Hutcheson Attorney Stuart James

Judge Harold Murphy said, in part, the claim contained “few, if any, factual allegations” and suggested the high-price lawyer who prepared the claim – Stuart James – could be held personally responsible for some costs of the ridiculous case.

He also denied a request to add Dade, Catoosa, or the Hospital Authority into a lawsuit filed by Erlanger against Walker – the only party in the case continually refusing to cooperate.

In another area of the continuing case, Walker County last week offered Erlanger $1.3 million (which we don’t have) to repay the county’s $8.7 million Hutcheson debt.

Erlanger of course rejected the lowball offer.

Hutcheson Medical Center SignThe insultingly low settlement suggestion almost seems like it was meant to be rejected so the endless legal fight could continue. Not surprising, since the county’s attorney is getting a kickback from James James & Joyner – Stuart James’ lawfirm, recipient of legal fees associated with the Hutcheson battle.

Every day this case continues makes Walker County’s debts, for a hospital company that no longer exists, even bigger – not to mention the increasing pile of legal bills.

The Hospital Authority is owned by Dade, Walker, and Catoosa – but if you had any doubt which county (and which county Commissioner) pulls the strings and calls the shots, here’s a reminder:

The Authority was going to meet this week and discuss settlement options, but since Walker is opposed to settling, the meeting didn’t happen because the board suddenly got worried about the legality of e-mail communications.

In related Hutcheson news, the defunct company now owes over $3.75 million in unpaid employee medical bills due to the insurance plan it collected payments for and then never covered [PDF link].

THAT debt isn’t backed by the counties, and most of it will never be paid.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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