2014
04.23

210 Villanow St. has been abandoned and deteriorating for several years. Now it’s literally collapsing into the street. This isn’t the back side of town, it’s located on a gateway to the city across from the cemetery.

210 Villanow Street / Deteriorating Abandoned House

During last Monday’s meeting, LaFayette City Council voted to begin actively pursuing “nuisance abatement” laws – in other words, the city will start enforcing long-ignored laws requiring residents to fix up their falling-in houses and clean up their yards.

    WQCH Radio, 04/22/14: “CODES DEPARTMENT HEAD PHILLIP JEFFERS TOLD THE COUNCIL THAT HE ESTIMATES THE COST OF DEMOLITION AND REMOVAL OF SUCH STRUCTURES SHOULD AVERAGE UNDER 3-THOUSAND DOLLARS EACH. CITY MANAGER MAX MORRISON ADDED THAT WITH THE CITY’S IMPROVING FINANCES, THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO HANDLE ABOUT 3 TO 5 DEMOLITIONS EACH YEAR. A LIEN IS THEN PLACED ON THE PROPERTY, IN HOPES OF RECOUPING THE EXPENSE OF DEMOLITION.”

We don’t need an aggressive entity demanding houses all be painted a certain color and making everyone cut their grass to the same length twice a week, but homes that are allowed to deteriorate like this one (and many others) are encouraging crime and killing property values. The city’s new codes director, Phillip Jeffers, really has a chance here to make a difference in the city that people will be able to see and feel.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Two local business, Loughridge Equipment and Sears, were robbed over the weekend.

    WQCH Radio, 04/22/14: “THIEVES CUT A HOLE IN THE [Loughridge Equipment] SECURITY FENCE, AND SPENT QUITE SOME TIME ON THE PROPERTY, ACCORDING TO DETECTIVES. THEY GAINED ENTRANCE TO THE SHOP AND TOOK NUMEROUS TOOLS, MANY BELONGING TO MECHANICS WHO WORK FOR THE BUSINESS. TOTAL VALUE OF THE LOSS THERE WAS OVER 2-THOUSAND DOLLARS.
    “THEN THEY BROKE THROUGH A WINDOW AND RANSACKED THE BUSINESS OFFICE. THEY OPENED A SAFE AND TOOK $750 CASH, AND GUITAR AND A HAND GUN. THE BREAK-IN OCCURRED BETWEEN SATURDAY NIGHT AND MONDAY MORNING, ACCORDING TO OWNER, BILL LOUGHRIDGE. ANYONE WITH INFORMATION ON THE BREAK-IN SHOULD CONTACT LAFAYETTE POLICE.”

Sources say the business has offered a reward for information leading to an arrest.

Sears LaFayette

    “A REPORT WAS RECEIVED MONDAY MORNING, OF SUSPICIOUS PERSONS TRYING TO SELL SOME ITEMS ACROSS THE STREET FROM CVS ON NORTH MAIN. WHEN POLICE ARRIVED, THE MAN AND WOMAN TRIED TO FLEE. THEY WERE IN POSSESSION OF A TOP-OF-THE-LINE STIHL CHAINSAW AND AN IMPACT WRENCH, TOTAL VALUE OVER $700.
    “POLICE IMPOUNDED THE ITEMS FOR ‘SAFE KEEPING’ AND MINUTES LATER, THEY RECEIVED THE REPORT THAT THE ITEMS HAD BEEN TAKEN FROM THE SEARS STORE IN LAFAYETTE, SATURDAY NIGHT. AN ARREST IS PENDING IN THAT CASE.”   Tiny Facebook

Relay for Life event at Saddle Ridge school this Friday has special meaning for Kandy Gilstrap, principal of Rock Spring Elementary. Gilstrap was diagnosed with breast cancer last month.

2013 Relay for Life

Local musician Channing Wilson is taking bids to let someone cut his hair, with proceeds going to help Gilstrap in her battle against cancer. Top bid right now is $105. (The hair goes to “Locks of Love.”)   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2014
04.21

Preliminary accident report from GSP says driver of school bus that ran over Zackery Bryant one week ago was not distracted or visually impaired. The boy apparently dropped his Nintendo DS and was killed after reaching down in front of the bus to retrieve it. The accident was an accident, not malicious, and not something avoidable or due to negligence.

Accident at Chattanooga Valley Elementary

A lot of articles have been making hay over the driver and his name, reporters have tried to speak with the man and his family… There’s really no reason to harass the guy or blame him for this; it could have happened to literally ANY bus driver in the county – he just happened to be the one behind the wheel when it occurred.

School policy and procedure for unloading students has also come under fire, and it seems more likely a failure in that area is responsible for the tragedy than driver error. Superintendent Raines says four or five adults are normally present at Chattanooga Valley Elementary every day to supervise children exiting busses, and every driver is trained each year.

Raines explained current rules in place are one reason why the system has been able to transport thousands of children every school day all year long without incidents like this occurring previously. However, the school system IS reviewing school bus safety protocol in light of Monday’s tragic accident and will make changes if any are deemed necessary.

None of that changes the pain of a dead six year old child. Final services and a candlelight vigil for Zackery were held over the weekend.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Another person taking advantage of relatives. Sinking pretty low, if this proves true:

Patrick Smith

    WQCH Radio, 04/17/14: “LAFAYETTE POLICE MADE AN ARREST IN A SECOND RECENT CASE, INVOLVING FINANCIAL FRAUD ON A FAMILY MEMBER.
    “23 YEAR OLD PATRICK RYAN SMITH OF A SMALLWOOD STREET ADDRESS IN LAFAYETTE, IS ACCUSED OF TAKING HIS MOTHER-IN-LAW’S CREDIT CARD FROM HER HOME ON APRIL 4th, AND USING IT IN THREE UNAUTHORIZED TRANSACTIONS. ONE CAUGHT ON VIDEO WAS A $680 CASH ADVANCE AT THE REGION’S BANK ATM IN LAFAYETTE, ACCORDING TO POLICE.
    “SMITH WAS CHARGED WITH THEFT BY TAKING AND THREE FELONY COUNTS OF FINANCIAL CARD FRAUD.”   Tiny Facebook

During last Monday’s City Council meeting, LaFayette leaders decided to rename the city’s airport “LaFayette Regional Airport – Barwick Field.”

Plane at Barwick-LaFayette Airport

Barwick name is marginalized but still remains – how do you feel about the new brand?   Tiny Facebook

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2014
04.16

6-year-old killed Monday in bus accident at Chattanooga Valley Elementary has been publicly identified as Zackery Bryant.

Zackery Bryant

Flags flew half-mast at all Walker County schools on Tuesday, and a candlelight vigil in memory of the kindergartener will be held Saturday night from 6 to 8 at Rock Spring rec. center. So far there are no other memorials or services announced. A fund to assist his family with funeral arrangements has been set up at Wells-Fargo Bank.

Meanwhile, investigation into the school bus accident that claimed his life continues. Investigators have spoken to all the other students who rode the bus (none of whom apparently saw the accident) and videos retrieved from the bus and school grounds. The incident will be formally turned over to a prosecutor who will decide if charges are warranted.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

City reorganization moved animal control from codes to police department. Caleb Hartshorn named new animal control officer; Hartshorn is training with LPD while finishing a law enforcement degree at Dalton State.

Caleb Hartshorn with Benjie CLift & Stacey Meeks

Officer Hartshorn commented on LU Facebook that he appreciates the community’s support and feels great “being a home town boy working for the public.

Caleb seems to be a pretty good guy, hopefully he’ll stay that way.   Tiny Facebook

Walmart plans to build a new “Neighborhood Market” in Fort O. behind Chick-Fil-A. Site is less than 3 miles from the company’s existing superstore location, which will remain open.

New format from world’s largest retailer is an attempt to better compete with dollar stores and convenience/gas stations.   Tiny Facebook

How do you feel about one-way streets? Seems a good number of people in town don’t want them, especially not downtown:

    WQCH Radio, 04/15/14: “NO NEW ONE-WAY STREETS IN DOWNTOWN LAFAYETTE. THE CITY COUNCIL VOTED AGAINST A PROPOSAL TO MAKE NAPIER AND FARRIS STREETS ONE WAY, ON THE EAST SIDE OF SOUTH MAIN. THAT PROPOSAL WAS BROUGHT TO THE COUNCIL LAST MONTH BY WALKER COUNTY TAX COMMISSIONER, CAROLYN WALKER, WHOSE OFFICE IS BOUNDED NORTH AND SOUTH BY THOSE TWO STREETS.

Map of Proposed One Way Streets

    “AT MONDAY’S MEETING, LOCAL ATTORNEY BILL RHYNE PRESENTED THE COUNCIL WITH A PETITION BEARING OVER 140 SIGNATURES OF RESIDENTS WHO ARE AGAINST THE ONE-WAY IDEA. THE COUNCIL VOTED TO LEAVE BOTH NAPIER AND FARRIS STREETS AS THEY ARE: OPEN TO TWO-WAY TRAFFIC.”   Tiny Facebook

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2014
04.15

A six-year-old child was struck by a school bus and killed in front of Chattanooga Valley Elementary early Monday morning. Kindergartener was hit after exiting his bus in front of the Flintstone school and, per Coroner DeWayne Wilson, died instantly.

April 14 School Bus Accident

GSP is reviewing cameras from the bus and the school as part of investigating the accident. Final results of the investigation aren’t likely to be made public for months, meanwhile a family and a community deal with the shocking loss.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Another article about upcoming property tax increase. Commissioner Bebe again blames the rise on cities, the school system, road work (which isn’t paid for with this money), and property values.

Bebe Buck Stops Here

Article is only notable because it shows property tax rates in Walker for the last fifteen years. Since Bebe took office in January 2001, taxes have more than doubled – going from 2.3 to 4.705 mils in unincorporated areas.

2013 SPLOST Billboard

Remember these billboards? Keep your taxes LOW by voting for TAXES!

The tax we COULD have lowered was renewed by gullible voters, and the taxes we can’t control are now being raised by the Commissioner.

Nobody’s ever lost money betting on the poor judgment of Walker County voters.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

LaFayette library staff talked to Jed Mescon on Channel 3 last Wednesday about the fundraiser featuring Johnny Cash.

All profits from sales of the Cash poster, and proceeds from the various raffles, will go to the library’s youth programs and to purchase books for kids.

Library officials also say the branch remodeling in LaFayette MIGHT be done this summer.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2014
04.08

Late Sunday night or early Morning morning a Dade County prisoner overpowered a guard and escaped while at Hutcheson. Authorities looked for him in the Fort Oglethorpe area but have abandoned the hunt there, apparently thinking he’s headed back to Dade for some reason.

Escaped Prisoner Joshua Bradford

As of early Tuesday morning he still hasn’t been located. Apparently the crimes he committed originally aren’t as serious as what he did to get away.

If you see this guy, contact local law enforcement.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Profitability has also escaped Hutcheson and seems increasingly unlikely to ever be found again.

During February the hospital lost over $1 million. A year earlier under Erlanger’s control the hospital made a profit of over $100,000.

Which, again, shows the stupidity of Hutcheson suing Erlanger for mismanagement when they managed the hospital better than its own people have.   Tiny Facebook

A “wild” pig, apparently an escaped potbelly, has been spotted recently in the Naomi area. This photo was taken in a yard off Hwy. 151 near Kemp Rd. late last week. He’s also been seen on Corinth Rd. and Coffman Springs Rd.

wild_pig

A few days after LU shared this photo, Channel 3 decided the escaped pig was newsworthy. Their report claims the hog has also been seen at LaFayette Walmart, which seems hard to believe considering the distance, number of busy road crossings, and the animal’s size.

(If you want to know what Channel 3 will be covering next week, read LU THIS week.)   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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