2014
10.25

Damon JonesTragic news from Naomi.

15-year-old Damon Jones died in a 4-wheeler accident Thursday night. Jones, a 10th grader at LHS, was riding an ATV near Mt. Zion Church off Dunwoody Rd. with another boy and was killed when he struck a cable hanging across a parking lot.

An extremely sad, terrible situation.

Jones’ death has devastated fellow students at LaFayette High School, many of whom didn’t attend Friday as they dealt with the loss. Per Channel 3, an account to help pay for Jones’ final arrangements has been set up at the Bank of LaFayette.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Rumors verified, per WQCH Radio: Commissioner Heiskell has offered to BUY the former Stearns Bank/Covenant Bank building in Rock Spring, and is willing to spend at least a half million dollars to get it.

Covenant Bank Building

She says the county needs it for the tax office and will probably bulldoze old Kitchen’s Clinic in town where the tax assessor is located now.

    WQCH Radio, 10/23/14: “WALKER COUNTY GOVERNMENT IS NEGOTIATING A POSSIBLE PURCHASE OF THE FORMER STEARNS BANK LOCATION AT ROCK SPRING.
    “COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL SAID WEDNESDAY THAT COUNTY OFFICES INCLUDING THE TAX COMMISSIONER AND ASSESSORS OFFICES, NOW LOCATED IN THE FORMER KITCHENS CLINIC BUILDING IN LAFAYETTE, MAY BE MOVED TO THE ROCK SPRING LOCATION IF A DEAL IS STRUCK.
    “THE COUNTY INITIALLY ASKED STERNS TO DONATE THE EMPTY BANK LOCATION FOR A TAX WRITE-OFF, BUT THEY REFUSED. SHE SAID THE BANK CAME BACK RECENTLY WITH AN OFFER TO SELL THE BUILDING TO THE COUNTY FOR 950-THOUSAND DOLLARS. THE COUNTY COUNTERED WITH AN OFFER OF 500-THOUSAND. NEGOTIATIONS ARE STILL UNDERWAY.
    “WALKER COUNTY IS UNDER A CONSENT ORDER FROM THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE TO HIRE FOUR MORE APPRAISERS IN THE ASSESSORS OFFICE, AND THE ‘KITCHEN’S CLINIC’ ANNEX BUILDING IN LAFAYETTE IS NOT LARGE ENOUGH TO ACCOMMODATE THEM. HEISKELL SAID THE FORMER CLINIC ALSO HAS A MOLD PROBLEM AND NEEDS TO BE EITHER GUTTED AND REMODELED, OR TORN DOWN FOR COURTHOUSE PARKING SPACE.
    “SHE REFUTED RUMORS THAT THE COUNTY HAS OFFERED 2 TO 3 MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE STERNS BANK BUILDING. THE BANK VACATED THE ROCK SPRING LOCATION THIS SUMMER, CLOSING THE GEORGIA OPERATIONS IT ACQUIRED AFTER COVENANT BANK FAILED.
    “HEISKELL SAID THE 17-THOUSAND SQUARE FOOT BUILDING AT ROCK SPRING COULD BE A BARGAIN, AND MAY SOLVE THE COUNTY’S OFFICE SPACE PROBLEM FOR LESS MONEY THAN BUILDING NEW OFFICES. SHE ALSO ADDED THAT THE COUNTY COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE WILL REMAIN IN LAFAYETTE, AS THE SEAT OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT.”

Reports from a year or so ago say the building cost about $2 million to construct, but that was before the housing and building market collapsed… It MIGHT be a good real estate deal, but Walker County supposedly doesn’t have this kind of money. We’re broke and raised taxes and have a hospital to support, remember?

The county has plenty of unused space. What about putting some of the assessors in one of the empty community centers, or one of the cabins at Mountain Cove Farms? Or park a trailer next to the office building on Duke and Withers Bebe bought years ago for her own new office and never moved into… None of that would cost a half million dollars.

In addition to what the building will cost to buy, taking this property into government hands means it won’t be taxed anymore. The bank’s 2014 property tax bill is $19,103.12 . That’s how much the county general government and local schools will lose out on EVERY YEAR FROM NOW ON if Bebe takes over this building.

That’s almost enough to pay another deputy or a part-time school teacher.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
10.22

LU’s Sole Commissioner Vote Petition has now been signed by 1,750 people online, plus another 200+ who have signed in person.

King George II

The petition will be closing on November 11th, two months since it began. If you haven’t signed yet or know someone who wants to sign but hasn’t, time is running out.

Paper petitions are still available at Dinner Bell in Flintstone and Catlett Grocery on Roundpond Rd. (Dinner Bell alone had collected 70 signatures by the beginning of this week.)   Tiny Facebook

    WQCH Radio, 10/21/14: “THE GEORGIA SUPREME COURT HAS UPHELD DEATH SENTENCES FOR THE MAN CONVICTED IN BRUTAL WALKER COUNTY DOUBLE-MURDERS.

Mountain Top Boys Home Villanow

    “DONNIE ALLEN HULETT IS SENTENCED TO DIE FOR THE 2002 MURDERS OF BROTHERS, LARRY AND ARVINE PHELPS, AS THEY PERFORMED VOLUNTEER WORK AT [Mountain Top Boys Home in] VILLANOW. THE MEN WERE GUNNED DOWN AND BLUDGEONED FOR THEIR PICKUP TRUCK, WHICH WAS STOLEN.
    “ON OTHER CHARGES AGAINST HULETT, THE HIGH COURT SENT HIS CASE BACK FOR RE-SENTENCING, BUT THE TWO DEATH SENTENCES FOR THE MURDERS, WERE ALLOWED TO STAND.”

Chattanooga media says the judges indicated there should be MORE punishment for the killer than he was originally given, considering he killed AND robbed the men. His original sentence was death, so it’s hard to add much meaningful punishment beyond that – the extra sentencing is mostly a formality.   Tiny Facebook

Corinth Rd Wreck October 20th

Wreck Monday night on Corinth Rd. around 8 PM. No details, but eyewitnesses say the male driver “seemed to be OK” afterwards.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
10.18

The intersection of Foster Blvd. and the 27 bypass in front of LaFayette Post Office became the scene of another accident yesterday afternoon – the second wreck there in two days.

October 17 Post Office Wreck

That accident and a handful of other incidents kept Walker County Emergency Services busy all day long. Wrecks in front of Ridgeland and in front of Chickamauga McDonalds, a child eating laundry soap in Rock Spring, and three home football games played at the same time inside the county all spread ambulances thin in the evening.   Tiny Facebook

Speaking of medical emergencies: Will a Gilbert teacher give your child ebola next week as the rumor mill claims?

Short answer: no.   Tiny Facebook

Three home football games were played simultaneously last night inside Walker County, and all three host teams (including two celebrating homecoming) were soundly defeated.

October 17 Football Ramblers vs Pickens

Facing the Pickens Dragons for the first time, LaFayette was defeated 34 to 69. LHS is now 2-4 for the season with three games remaining. Next week is Gilmer in an away game, then Cartersville at home and Ridgeland away.

Ridgeland was also defeated in its homecoming game versus Heritage, the team that beat LaFayette last week. Ridgeland (3-4) scored 16 points to the Generals’ 31. Adding insult to score-injury, the Panthers’ own home crowd booed the team (or possibly its coach) at halftime. (Not sure what led to that, but it’s Ridgeland so who cares.)

And Gordon Lee was shut out by Chattooga, 30-0. Gordon Lee is 2-6 for the year, one of only two teams LaFayette has triumphed over so far this season. An all-around mediocre (bordering on terrible) year for high school football in Walker County.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2014
10.17

Throughout the day, Walker County social media has been buzzing (absolutely vibrating) with rumors regarding the risk of ebola being spread in a LaFayette school. As rumors tend to go, the details have been inconsistent and the rumored situation has grown worse with each retelling.

Walker County Schools HQ

The core rumor (with some variation) is as follows: An administrator or teacher from Gilbert Elementary traveled to Dallas for the birth of a grandchild. The child was born at a Dallas hospital recently in headline news for the ebola virus, so the school employee will bring the disease back and transmit it to students when she returns to work next week.

In order to address a potential panic in the community, LU contacted the school system for a comment on the situation. Superintendent Raines sent the following statement shortly before 5:00 this evening:

    “The Walker County Board of Education has been in contact with our local Health Department and the Regional Health Department in Rome throughout the day. Officials with the Regional Health Department assure the Walker County School System there is no cause for alarm regarding an employee traveling back from Dallas, Texas. They recommend that everyone become familiar with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) website and read the facts concerning transmission of this or any virus or disease. The main priority of the Walker County School System is the health and safety of all students and employees.”

The school system additionally included this statement from Dr. Wade Sellers of Northwest Georgia Community Health:

    “Ebola is spread by contact with a sick person’s blood or body fluids. Someone who has not been in direct contact with an infected person or has not traveled to West Africa is not at risk for being infected with Ebola.  Even being in the same building where an Ebola patient is being cared for does not present a risk, again, unless there is direct contact with the infected person or their bodily fluids.”

A school employee DID travel to Dallas, but there’s no risk of them catching or carrying the disease unless they sat in the same room as an impacted patient or somehow came across their bodily fluids. The patient who died of ebola was long gone before the school employee left Walker County, and the nurses infected – who don’t work the neonatal unit – are under quarantine in another state.

There’s no risk of ebola coming to Walker County OR being spread to school children at Gilbert or anywhere else through this individual’s out-of-state travel. Parents can send their kids to school next week and the week after that in as much safety as they normally have.

CDC Web Site | Texas Hospital Web Site

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2014
10.15

Corey Petree, organizer of last weekend’s Cherokee Farms event, Fly Free Fest, confirms the county shut them down multiple times over the weekend for violating noise rules. He says county leaders have decided to crack down on Cherokee Farms due to multiple problems on the site and a multitude of complaints from citizens.

Performer During Fly Free Fest 14 at Cherokee Farms

Petree says Commissioner Heiskell revoked the festival’s non-existent special permit to play music all night long. County insiders verify that account, saying the Commissioner’s Office finally took action after several hundred people called 911 to complain about the event, but there was never any special sound permit issued because the county doesn’t have one. They simply enforced the county’s long-standing noise ordinance requiring loud music to end at 11 PM.

    Fly Free Fest Facebook, 10/13/14: “The Walker County Commissioner revoked our special permit and wouldn’t allow us to serve alcohol on Sunday. The sheriff came around 8:30 and told us we couldn’t serve or distribute beer anymore.”

The county DID come tell Fly Free Fest vendors they couldn’t sell alcohol on Sunday, but they didn’t revoke the event’s Sunday sales permit because it never had one of those, either. A special event alcohol retail sale license was issued to Jolly Walrus Productions (which owns Fly Free Fest), but was only good for 10/10 and 10/11, Friday and Saturday. They had no legal permission to sell beer at all on Sunday. The Sheriff’s Office or Walker County Police, whichever agency it was, was right to step in.

For the first time, after eight years of this crap, the county finally started enforcing at least SOME of the rules at Cherokee Farms, and suspended property owner Smokey Caldwell’s “get away with anything” license – at least temporarily.

LU doesn’t say this much, but good on Commissioner Heiskell (and probably Sheriff Wilson) for actually doing something this time.   Tiny Facebook

October 15 Post Office Wreck   October 15 Post Office Wreck

Wreck this morning on LaFayette bypass at Grant St. in front of the Post Office. Happened around 8 AM. No word on injuries.

That’s a dangerous intersection. A city worker was killed in a city vehicle pulling out there a few years ago.   Tiny Facebook

Rudelle Greene in UniformMonday night during the regular October business meeting, LaFayette City Council paid tribute to retired LPD officer Rudelle Greene, who passed away last month.

Greene was hired by LPD 47 years ago to the day (October 13, 1967) and was the department’s first non-white officer AND its first officer with a college degree. Greene served until 1998.

    WQCH Radio, 10/14/14: “IN THE PLAQUE PRESENTATION, MAYOR ANDY ARNOLD WAS JOINED BY POLICE CHIEF BENJIE CLIFT AND ANOTHER VETERAN OF THE LAFAYETTE P.D. – KENNY CARRUTHERS. SERGEANT GREENE WAS THE FIRST AFRICAN-AMERICAN POLICE OFFICER FOR THE CITY. THE PLAQUE WILL BE DISPLAYED NEXT TO THE MEMORIAL FOR FORMER POLICE CHIEF DINO RICHARDSON, AT THE LAFAYETTE POLICE DEPARTMENT.”

Other meeting issues included disposing of surplus equipment and vehicles, engineering new water lines for Swanson Farm industrial park, and adopting a 2015 budget.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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