2015
03.27

A Roper employee died Tuesday afternoon while mowing grass at the factory on a tractor. He was found passed out on the machine and pronounced dead at Hutcheson.

Roper Corp

Per official reports, the man – later identified as David Cabe – wasn’t obviously injured; emergency responders believe he suffered a heart attack.   Tiny Facebook

If you’re gonna be a thief, go big. Three credit cards, a luxury car… Beats having to tell the other prisoners you’re in jail for shoplifting from Dollar Tree.

    WQCH Radio, 03/25/15: “A FRAUDULENT CREDIT CARD PURCHASE WAS HALTED AND A STOLEN CAR RECOVERED AT THE LAFAYETTE WALMART LAST FRIDAY; POLICE WERE NOTIFIED THAT THE VEHICLE WAS LOCATED THERE THROUGH A ‘PINGED’ CELL PHONE INSIDE.
    Kevin Paul Venier“35 YEAR OLD KEVIN PAUL VENIER, WHO LIVES ON ‘HOOTIE HOO HOLLER’ OFF 136 WEST OF LAFAYETTE, WAS ARRESTED ON MULTIPLE CHARGES.
    “INSIDE THE STORE, VENIER TRIED TO MAKE PURCHASES WITH TWO STOLEN DEBIT CARDS, WHICH WERE DENIED. WITH A THIRD CARD, HE PURCHASED TWO CELL PHONES AND AN AIRSOFT PISTOL, ACCORDING TO THE POLICE REPORT. HE AND HIS FEMALE COMPANION WERE STOPPED UPON LEAVING THE STORE. A STOLEN LEXAS [sic] HE HAD BEEN DRIVING, REPORTED MISSING FROM CHATTANOOGA, WAS RECOVERED IN THE PARKING LOT.
    “VENIER WAS CHARGED WITH THEFT BY BRINGING STOLEN PROPERTY INTO THE STATE, FINANCIAL CARD FRAUD, CRIMINAL ATTEMPT TO COMMIT A FELONY AND GIVING A FALSE NAME.”

This isn’t Mr. Venier’s first – or second – arrest. The pic came from one of his prior bookings in Chattanooga.   Tiny Facebook

Roger Forgey

Catoosa County has hired former Hutcheson CEO Roger Forgey as a consultant. Forgey will help Catoosa leaders understand the hospital’s ongoing financial situation, and help them decide if they should push for chapter 7 bankruptcy – a liquidation of the hospital’s assets.

Forgey is the good CEO Erlanger provided to Hutcheson who was starting to turn the place around when the hospital board ended their management deal and kicked him to the curb – not to be confused with his corrupt predecessor Charles Stewart, or idiot replacement Farrell Hayes.

Walker County doesn’t need any educated or experienced consultants. We’re still shakin’ that Magic-8-Ball Bebe got at Bill’s in downtown Chickamauga twenty years ago.   Tiny Facebook

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2015
03.23

Charles Nathan BurgessPolice say Friday’s chase from LaFayette to Tunnel Hill cut through Woodstation, Rocky Face, and neared Varnell, often reaching speeds of 90 MPH or more.

Charles Nathan Burgess, who fled after stealing a truck, remains in the Whitfield jail facing 11 charges, including several for the chase and for drugs. (He was allegedly messed up on Meth during the chase.) He will be charged with more crimes once he’s back in Walker.

Linked report says he went from highways 151 to 201, which means he had to cut through Nickajack over Taylor’s Ridge. That’s about the worst road you could possibly choose for a high speed chase.   Tiny Facebook

Wrecked LPD SRO Patrol Car / Skipper Dunn

The city wasted no time in replacing Skipper Dunn’s wrecked patrol car. Insurance will cover some of this, presumably?

    WQCH Radio, 03/21/15: “IN A CALLED MEETING TUESDAY NIGHT, THE LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL AGREED TO REPLACE A POLICE CRUISER, WHICH WAS TOTALED IN A WRECK LAST WEEK. THE PURCHASE OF A 2014 DODGE CHARGER WITH POLICE PACKAGE WAS APPROVED AT THE STATE BID PRICE OF $23,136.”

Judging by the outgoing vehicle’s age, it probably has 700,000 miles on it and was going to need replacement soon anyway. Fortunately the city has money in reserve now and isn’t forced to take out high-interest loans or sell bonds to cover emergency equipment purchases.

    “THE COUNCIL ALSO FORMED A COMMITTEE TO UPDATE THE CITY’S SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY. AS CURRENTLY WRITTEN, IT PREVENTS MOST EMPLOYEES FROM CONTRIBUTING CITY NEWS ON THE INTERNET.
    “CITY MANAGER DAVID HAMILTON SAID HE, THE CITY I.T. SPECIALIST – SCOTT UNDERWOOD, THE CITY ATTORNEY AND SOME DEPARTMENT HEADS WILL GATHER TO FORM A NEW SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY FOR COUNCIL APPROVAL.
    “THE CITY PLANS INITIALLY TO CREATE A NEW FACEBOOK PAGE FOR THE CITY RECREATION DEPARTMENT, IN ORDER TO COMMUNICATE WEATHER DELAYS AND SCHEDULED TIMES OF GAMES AND EVENTS.”

Would it be more beneficial to have a separate page for the rec. department (LPD, Downtown Development, Chattooga Academy, and the city’s general government already have their own FB pages) or to just give someone in the rec. department permission to post on the city’s existing main Facebook?

At least these things are being considered. We’ve finally moved the city council out of 1995.   Tiny Facebook

State Rep. Tom Weldon of Ringgold tells authorities missing evidence in his brother Wesley’s February drug arrest must have been stolen by “burglars.”

Rep. Tom Weldon / Times Free Press

Catoosa law enforcement officers have no reports or records of any burglary at the home involved; will they buy the story or will the legislator’s family be treated like anyone else would be in the same situation?

Like LU said last week, there’s nothing fishy AT ALL with this situation.   Tiny Facebook

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2015
03.21

A high speed chase began in LaFayette a little before lunchtime Friday, and ended up with a wrecked truck two counties away.

Per reports, 31-year-old Charles Burgess stole a pickup truck, then fled from deputies in it – a chase stretching over 20 miles. He was finally forced off the road near Tunnel Hill by a GSP cruiser and was booked in the Whitfield County jail.

More details on this one will surely emerge over the weekend.   Tiny Facebook

Walker County School’s restrictions on allowing people to speak during school board meetings has resulted in a lawsuit.

Walker County Schools HQ

Saddle Ridge social studies teacher Jim Barrett is suing the school system for violating his free speech rights by allegedly barring him from commenting on a new grading system during a school board meeting.

It’s not clear how much merit Barrett’s suit has, but there’s definitely some problems with the school board and its meetings. You can’t go easily speak, they don’t put out an agenda or minutes online, nothing is recorded, and the school superintendent more or less controls everything with minimal input from the elected board.

Maybe this case will lead to reforms. Maybe.   Tiny Facebook

Larry Brooks at Phillips Bros Machine

Friday Phillips Brothers Machine laid off 31 employees, roughly a third of the company’s workforce. The labor cut is part of the business’ bankruptcy filing.

But no worries. Bebe said “It’s not a problem for us.”   Tiny Facebook

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2015
03.19

Latest on the Pledger Parkway child abuse case.

Pledger Parkway Abuse Home

Police indicate the 9-year-old boy at the center of abuse charges was treated worse than other children in the home; seems he was abused because he wasn’t part of the family, only staying with the people now arrested for mistreating him.

Gilbert employees began reporting abuse to DFCS in November but the child wasn’t removed until January. Action took 13 calls to DFCS from the school plus a call to LPD.

Neighbors told Channel 3 they didn’t call DFCS because they saw caseworkers visit the home and thought the agency was already handling the situation. So something WAS seemingly done, since neighbors saw DFCS caseworkers coming around. But whatever was done wasn’t sufficient.   Tiny Facebook

Another sad story about a child – this one not related to abuse:

    WQCH Radio, 03/17/15: “SEVERAL AGENCIES ARE CONDUCTING AN INVESTIGATION INTO AN INFANT DEATH, REPORTED IN LAFAYETTE ON MONDAY AFTERNOON.
    “POLICE SAY A BABY SITTER CALLED FROM HER RESIDENCE ON EAST AVENUE IN CIRCLE DRIVE, TO REPORT THAT SHE DISCOVERED THE 2 MONTH OLD WAS NOT BREATHING. EMS TRIED TO RESUSCITATE THE CHILD ALL THE WAY TO HUTCHESON MEDICAL CENTER, WITHOUT SUCCESS.

(Initial reports describe the home as a babysitter’s house, but a later post from Channel 3 says the East Ave. house operates as a daycare center.)

State law requires GBI involvement any time a child dies for unclear reasons. Investigators wait on autopsy results to make a final conclusion, but say everything so far indicates the child died of natural causes.

Sympathy and prayer extended to all involved.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

CatWalkChatt has a poll asking which form of county government people prefer.

WCM Sole Commissioner Poll Results

As this is written, the survey shows overwhelming support for a change to multi-commmissioner government. The vote isn’t official or binding in any way, but does indicate the issue was hardly “settled” by Saturday’s Republican Convention decision not to let voters have a say on their form of government.

Overwhelming demand for change is exactly why the Powers that Be WON’T allow a vote on this controversial topic, because they know how the vote would end up.   Tiny Facebook

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2015
03.18

Updated 3/18/15 @ 11:03 PM

A Walker County Sheriff’s Office sergeant found himself in jail and out of a job Tuesday after a weekend incident of domestic violence.

Walker County Sheriffs Patrol Car

The GBI launched an investigation of Detective Sergeant Dewayne Llewellyn after he was involved in a domestic dispute. A call about the incident came in to Walker 911 late Sunday and the GBI was called in Monday as part of standard procedure when an officer is accused of a crime.

It’s unclear who exactly called GBI in, but under state law the investigative agency can only be contacted by elected leaders of law enforcement agencies, cities, and counties – so it was very likely Sheriff Wilson himself who requested the investigation.

Dewayne LlewellynThe GBI didn’t mess around; Tuesday Detective Llewellyn was arrested and subsequently fired from the Sheriff’s Office.

(Detective Llewellyn’s ethics have come into question at least once before; back in 1999 while serving as a deputy for Catoosa County, Llewellyn allowed a Walker County Sheriff’s captain to drive home drunk after being pulled over for driving 85 in a 55 on highway 27. That officer was fired, but Dewayne Llewellyn ended up with a job in Walker County and moved through the ranks to become a detective – hopefully in spite of his “professional courtesy” for the drunk captain, and not because of it.)

Walker County’s Sheriff Office and Sheriff Wilson have a terrible history of not investigating officers in abusive relationships. A deputy sleeping with a minor several years ago was allowed to resign and not prosecuted; in 2010 a recently-retired (now deceased) department leader threatened to shoot family members and caused an entire neighborhood to be evacuated, but faced no criminal charges.

And of course there’s the notorious case of Theresa Parker, the 911 dispatcher who talked to Sheriff Wilson directly about her abusive police officer husband Sam, then ended up dead when Wilson took no action. (One of LU’s sources on this matter stated they reached out to the blog specifically hoping to prevent another Sam Parker type incident.)

Sheriffs OfficeHopefully this investigation and termination indicate a new attitude towards domestic violence and officer-involved crime within the Sheriff’s Office – but it’s only one of several examples in recent weeks.

The GBI has also investigated an unrelated incident that happened around the same time; a Walker County Deputy was accused of making violent threats against his now-ex wife. That investigation was ruled inconclusive since it was a matter of his word vs. her word. That officer was not charged and remains on the force. For now.

This developing report is based off information from four sources with close ties to local law enforcement. When more details of this incident are made available the article will be updated.

UPDATE:

The Sheriff’s Office issued a press release Wednesday afternoon verifying Llewellyn’s arrest and termination.

Per that statement, now-ex-Detective Llewellyn struck his wife with his hand. She “sustained discoloration and swelling to the area of the cheek and eye.” He was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor battery, released on $1,000 bond, and subsequently fired.

Independent sources tell LU that officer Llewellyn was immediately notified of his spouse’s 911 call by a girlfriend working at the county dispatch center – potentially putting the woman in more danger. That highlights again the need for a firm fraternization policy covering employees of the Sheriff’s Office, 911 center, city police, and county fire/rescue agencies.

This issue isn’t resolved until any woman, child, friend, or neighbor in the county aware of abuse can confidently report that abuse to law enforcement without fear of making it worse.

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