2014
07.21

GE is planning to put its appliance division (including Roper in LaFayette) up for sale, again, after it finishes buying Alstrom.

Roper Corp

The massive conglomerate tried to sell the Kentucky-based appliance business six years ago and couldn’t find any takers; since then the global economy has slightly improved, and GE has invested tens of millions into the business – making it a more valuable buyout target.

Selling out wouldn’t necessarily mean Roper’s closure, but would raise the chances of that happening considerably. Roper shutting down would make Blue Bird closing in 2010 look like nothing in comparison; the loss of 1,300+ jobs would throw LaFayette, Walker County, and much of Chattooga County down a proverbial economic toilet.   Tiny Facebook

If you’re keeping drugs in the car, be sure to also keep a jug of someone else’s warm pee handy in case you’re asked to take a random drug test. Not that it helped THESE guys very much..

    WQCH Radio, 07/17/14: “LAFAYETTE POLICE DISCOVERED POT, DRUG PARAPHERNALIA AND STORED URINE AFTER A TRAFFIC STOP LAST WEEK.

Alex Hardegree

    “THE STOP WAS MADE FOR A TAIL LIGHT VIOLATION AND BECAUSE THE DRIVER WAS OBSERVED FOLLOWING ANOTHER CAR TOO CLOSELY. WHEN THE CAR WAS STOPPED AT THE FORMER DON LOLO PARKING LOT, THE OFFICER DETECTED THE ODOR OF MARIJUANA AND CONSENT WAS GIVEN FOR A SEARCH.
    “THAT TURNED-UP A SMALL QUANTITY OF MARIJUANA, A PIPE AND OTHER ITEMS, PLUS A STORE OF URINE, BEING HEATED WITH HAND-WARMERS.
    “THOSE ARRESTED WERE BOTH ON PROBATION – AND POLICE BELIEVE THE URINE WAS BEING KEPT IN CASE THEY WERE REQUIRED TO DO A DRUG TEST. 22 YEAR OLD ALEXANDER BROOKS HARDEGREE AND 25 YEAR OLD JOHNSON EUGENE SCHRADER WERE CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA.”

Urine passed by drug users can also sometimes be used to make more drugs.   Tiny Facebook

LaFayette Tree TrimmingLU has gotten complaints during the last week about LaFayette aggressively cutting back trees along the roadside. The city has apparently gotten calls from people upset that their trees were trimmed so much.

Seems like LaFayette Public Works has long needed to do more aggressive trimming, because in some places you can’t see how to get in the road for limbs or bushes; anything in the city’s street right-of-way is legally fair game to trim and a liability to the city if someone has an accident.

One reason the trees look so bad this time is because they haven’t been trimmed in a long while. Regularly conducting this kind of maintenance (which is often neglected by the city AND especially county) will keep the damage to a minimum.

Do you think cutting has gone too far or was it something long overdue?   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.18

Welcome To Walker CountyCatoosa County’s multi-commissioner government reports “financial strength” for the fiscal year, bringing in more money than was spent; Catoosa won’t need to raise taxes this year.

Dade County’s school board announced a positive cash situation during its last meeting and actually lowered property tax there a smidge. Walker Co. Schools has also said no education tax increases here thanks to increasing state support and cost controls.

What about Walker County’s general government? Nine months into the fiscal year (which runs October-September) there’s still no 2014 budget. Commissioner Heiskell claims she doesn’t know how the county is doing financially and – despite saying months ago taxes would be going up – won’t formally admit if she’s raising taxes or not, even though the legal deadline to submit a tax increase to the state is sometime in August.

    WQCH Radio, 07/14/14: “THE WALKER COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL NOT BE RAISING PROPERTY TAX MILLAGE RATES THIS YEAR: THE NEWS FROM SUPERINTENDENT DAMON RAINES. THIS IS THE FIFTH-STRAIGHT YEAR THAT THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS MAINTAINED THE SAME RATE OF TAXATION ON LOCAL PROPERTY OWNERS…
    “WQCH ALSO ASKED WALKER COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL WHETHER PROPERTY TAXES WILL BE RAISED FOR THE OPERATION OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT AND SHE SAID THURSDAY, THAT ‘IT’S TOO SOON TO TELL’. THE BUDGET PROCESS HAS STARTED, BUT A NUMBER OF VARIABLES MUST BE TACKED-DOWN BEFORE THE REVENUE NEEDS OF THE COUNTY ARE KNOWN.
    “EARLIER THIS YEAR, HEISKELL SAID IT APPEARED THAT A TAX INCREASE OF ‘AT LEAST ONE MILL – AND MAYBE MORE’, WILL BE NEEDED THIS YEAR.”

What’s the difference between Walker County Schools, Dade County Schools, and Walker County’s general government? What’s the difference between Catoosa and Walker leadership? Competence, for one thing. Not having one sole person in charge, for another. Maybe we should try both of those sometime; obviously what we’re doing NOW isn’t working.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Wednesday evening around 6:30 a van caught fired and burned on Hwy. 136 in Naomi. This is in front of the old lottery/pizza store near York Road.

Wreck / July 16 Vehicle Fire

Vehicle appears to be a Chrysler minivan, no word about the occupant.   Tiny Facebook

Chris BiceDeputies have determined Chris Brice shot himself, by accident, Monday morning – with a gun he wasn’t legally allowed to have.

Brice hasn’t yet been arrested because he fled during treatment at Erlanger.

Good job Walker County Sheriff’s Office sending him to Erlanger, out of state, for treatment, and letting him leave despite the obvious suspiciousness of what happened.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.15

Walker County leaders say industrial facility planned for Noble will now be over 300,000 square feet. Construction on the Audia International site – which will do SOMETHING with plastics production – is tentatively scheduled to start in September.

Audia PlasticsThe county, and the business, have still said nothing about how many jobs might be attached to this expensive project. Reading between the lines it sounds like a warehouse, storage facility, or transfer site – not an active producer. Such an operation would mean just a handful of jobs in return for the county’s multi-million-dollar investment on the old Swanson farm site.

As someone commented on LU Facebook, “smart business would have made them commit in writting to a x amount of jobs before we spend tax dollars.” But nobody’s accusing Commissioner Heiskell or “Development Director” Larry Brooks of being smart with business or anything else.

(Yesterday Volkswagen gave Walker County and Audia Int’l. a good example of how this should work: VW will invest $600 million into an expansion of its Chattanooga plant, adding a second product category and an R&D center for an additional 2,000 jobs. No guessing, no hiding – real figures. That’s needed here, too.)   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Chris BiceMonday morning around 12:45, 28-year-old Christopher Blake Bice of Catoosa County was shot on Cooper Rd. off GA 151.

Bice was wounded in the leg. He initially told deputies someone else fired the shot by accident, then changed stories to say HE fired it by accident, but no weapon or evidence to verify either story has been found.

Bice has a history of drug use and was paroled from prison in January. If investigators determine he had possession of the weapon, a parole violation, he’ll end up back behind bars.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Walker County spends more money it doesn’t have to research walking trails almost nobody wants:

    WQCH Radio, 07/12/14: “WALKER COUNTY GOVERNMENT IS JOINING A MOVEMENT TO STUDY WHETHER THE ‘SILVER COMET TRAIL’ CAN BE EXTENDED FROM CEDARTOWN – THROUGH WALKER – AND INTO CHATTANOOGA. COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL SIGNED AN AGREEMENT TO JOIN CHATTANOOGA, SEVERAL GEORGIA COUNTIES AND THE REGIONAL COMMISSION – IN SEEKING GRANT FUNDING FOR THE STUDY.

Silver Comet Trail

    “THE PRESENT SILVER COMET TRAIL RUNS 61 MILES FROM SMYRNA TO THE ALABAMA LINE NEAR CEDARTOWN. IT FOLLOWS THE ROUTE OF A FORMER SEABOARD AIR LINE PASSENGER TRAIN CALLED THE ‘SILVER COMET’ WHICH STOPPED RUNNING IN 1969. IT’S A MULTI-USE RECREATIONAL TRAIL, 12 FEET WIDE, OPEN TO RUNNERS AND NON-MOTORIZED VEHICLE TRAFFIC.
    “IF THE FUNDING IS AWARDED, WALKER COUNTY WOULD AGREE TO PAY A 20-PERCENT LOCAL MATCH FOR THE FEASIBILITY STUDY.”

That 20% could be $5 or $50,000 – there’s no dollar figure attached to this. More shadiness from the Commissioner’s Office..

Meanwhile the county has spent about five years and hundreds of thousands of dollars building a walking trail on the old Durham rail line on Lookout Mountain, pissing off property owners up there, taking over private land, doing environmental damage, and getting sued by the state and homeowners alike.

Yes let’s do THAT again with another trail.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.12

Old Dollar General Sign

Good news for Villanow residents: Dollar General will be opening a new store in that community within the next year.

Walker County has eight DG stores already, including Rock Spring, Chickamauga, Kensington, Flintstone, and two each for LaFayette and Rossville.

Looks like it’ll be going in at the corner of GA 136 and GA 201, across 201 from the ancient decrepit Favorite Market / Mapco store. Workers have been clearing the lot for something, this is probably what that something will be.   Tiny Facebook

Jamie CookEarly Thursday morning an inmate in the Catoosa County jail was found hanged.

Jamie Shawn Cook was given CPR by jail guards and arrived at Hutcheson alive but was declared brain dead and taken off life support; he passed away Thursday afternoon, age 30.

Cook, who was in jail on drug charges, leaves behind at least one young child.

Per news reports he was sharing a cell with several other men but they didn’t hear or see anything.   Tiny Facebook

More stupid crime (with a Walmart link, per usual) in LaFayette:

    WQCH Radio, 07/11/14: “NOT A GOOD IDEA TO USE A CREDIT CARD STOLEN FROM A FRIEND AT THAT FRIEND’S PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT. LAFAYETTE POLICE WORKED JUST SUCH A CASE LAST WEEK.
    “THEY ARRESTED 31 YEAR OLD CANDICE MARIE ELSBERRY. SHE IS ACCUSED OF STEALING CASH AND A CREDIT CARD FROM HER FRIEND’S HOUSE IN CHICKAMAUGA. THE FRIEND HAPPENS TO BE A WALMART EMPLOYEE. THEN LAST FRIDAY, POLICE SAY ELSBERRY TOOK THE STOLEN CARD TO THE LOCAL WALMART WHERE EMPLOYEES RECOGNIZED THE NAME ON THE CARD AS THAT OF A CO-WORKER.
    “..SUSPECT WAS CHARGED WITH THEFT BY TAKING AND CREDIT CARD FRAUD.”   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.10

New federal rules mean some residents of public housing (those who choose a “flat rate” rent instead of one based on income) will be paying higher rent in the fall.

LaFayette Housing Authority Culberson Ave Apartments

LU contacted LaFayette Housing Authority about the change. Director Ruth Bass says LHA is “working through the changes” but doesn’t yet know what the local impact will be.

Average monthly rent for public housing in LaFayette now is $200; any changes will start on September 1st.   Tiny Facebook

Most employed Walker County citizens drive almost half an hour to get to work.

Walker County Commute Times

LaFayette residents average 21.6 minutes; people living in the Villanow area drive 32.4. Even those in the Chickamauga area are driving 30.8. That’s about five hours a week lost to commuting.

That’s because more than half of Walker County’s jobs are located in Hamilton or Whitfield. Hamilton, particularly, imports more than a quarter of its workforce from outside communities like Walker and Dade.

Dozens of people in LaFayette, Rock Spring, Chickamauga, even down into Trion and Rome, drive to Chattanooga for jobs in the Enterprise South Industrial Park where VW, Amazon, and several other giant companies are located.   Tiny Facebook

    WQCH Radio, 07/09/14: “A COUPLE SUSPECTED OF DEALING DRUGS WERE WERE FOUND SLEEPING INSIDE THEIR CAR ON THE LAFAYETTE WALMART PARKING LOT. POLICE WERE NOTIFIED LAST FRIDAY AT AROUND 1 PM.

LaFayette Walmart

    “THEY ARRESTED 23 YEAR OLD SHELBY LYNN FRANKLIN AND 28 YEAR OLD CHARLIE JUSTIN HARRIS, BOTH FROM CHICKAMAUGA. A 2 YEAR OLD CHILD WAS SLEEPING IN THE BACK OF THE CAR AND WAS TURNED OVER TO DFACS FOR PROTECTIVE CUSTODY.
    “A SEARCH OF THE CAR REVEALED BAGGIES CONTAINING CRYSTAL METH, A GLASS PIPE AND 5-THOUSAND FIVE-HUNDRED DOLLARS CASH. BOTH ADULTS WERE CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF METH.
    “AFTER HER ARREST, FRANKLIN WAS SEARCHED AGAIN INSIDE THE JAIL, AND A HYDROCODONE PILL WAS FOUND ON HER PERSON. SHE WAS ADDITIONALLY CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF SCHEDULE-3 NARCOTICS AND CROSSING THE GUARD LINE.
    “LAFAYETTE POLICE TURNED THE DRUG CASE OVER TO THE DRUG TASK FORCE FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.”

$5,500 in cash and they can’t find a hotel?   Tiny Facebook

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