2010
03.01

Traffic in LaFayette has been disrupted for nearly four months by barricades directing cars around a massive pothole on South Main Street. The yard-long crater popped up along the 600 block of S. Main in the northbound lane sometime after Halloween, but nothing significant has been done to repair it since mid-November when traffic cones and a flashing arrow sign were set up.

Potholes and bad pavement are certainly nothing new to LaFayette’s drivers, but this particular eruption is notable due to its large size, the disruptive safety barriers, and (most significantly) its location on a thoroughfare repaved end-to-end only a few weeks before the hole formed.

US Hwy 27 Business/GA Hwy 1, which splits off into Main St. through LaFayette for three miles before rejoining its parent, was completely resurfaced for $690,000 (or $230,000 per mile) courtesy of federal stimulus funding distributed through the state. Calhoun-based Northwest Georgia Paving handled the contract, which was worked out between it, the state, and the city, using stimulus fund guidelines.

Signs announcing the job, including a giant notice of what paid for it, were put up in early August, with actual construction lasting from mid-September into October. Once paving began work moved fairly quickly, with all construction done between 7 PM and 6 AM to reduce traffic disruptions – at least for those who got all their driving done before dark.

Even though construction went quickly, the minimal disruption and considerable financial cost weren’t worth the end result: a project done incorrectly, and one that failed to address the majority of problems along Main St. Besides new asphalt, other work needed along the roadway, such as adding right-hand turn lanes for some intersections (like the dangerous one at West Main/GA 193 where semi trucks can barely squeeze by), smoothing access to side roads, improving sidewalks, and fixing buried utilities, was specifically excluded from the project’s contract. That contract called only for the removal and replacement of old pavement, with responsibility for other prep work falling to LaFayette Public Works, which did almost nothing before the contractor moved in. The contract also forbid the city from digging up the pavement after work ended, at the risk of losing out on future road construction grants.

Some combination of no site preparation, a rushed job, and possible utility problems beneath the road led to asphalt that buckled less than a month after it cooled. We aren’t engineers by any means, but even the engineers working for GDOT and NWGA Paving don’t know exactly what caused the pothole to form since they haven’t yet bothered to lift chunks of pavement off the hole to see what, if anything, might lie beneath them.

Residents working near the fissure report occasional sightings of GDOT and NWGAP engineers who “stand around with their hands in their pockets and talk” while staring at the hole. One undergroundling was excited to see NWGAP unloading equipment at the site on February 17th, only to be disappointed later that day as a street sweeper cleared trash from around the cones and then was quickly taken away with no actual work done.

As the city, state, and contractor hash out who’s responsible for the pothole, or at least responsible for fixing it, local residents and businesses are entering their fourth month of dealing with traffic disruptions because of it. Enterprises along South Main, such as W.P.I.E. Electrical Supply, Bangz Salon, and Handy Mart, have had their business impacted by cars routed through the turn lane. Cars herded into the turn lane also pose a danger in an area where school buses, kids walking to the rec department, commercial traffic, and individual cars all converge.

Despite pavement that failed after a few weeks and all the trouble that followed as a result, LaFayette’s leaders are so pleased with the good-enough-for-federal-government-work (or its cost to the city anyway) that they’ve seemingly decided every public works project in town should be funded by federal and state agencies or not done at all.

Outside of the bailout-funded paving project on Main Street, the only road work done in LaFayette during 2009 was resurfacing Duke Street from its southern end to Warthen Street – a project very likely done so reporters covering the Sam Parker trial would have nice blacktop to show in their live reports from the courthouse. The only stretch of road paved by the city the previous year was Fred Henry Drive, a glorified driveway for the new golf course clubhouse. Out of all the miles of road within city limits, much of that falling apart, those were the only city-funded projects attempted by LaFayette Public Works during the last two years.

Several miles of city sidewalks were built or repaired during 2008-2009, but that too was apparently funded through a state grant, with work done by Alpharetta-based Morton Construction. That project was also poorly done, with curbs and sidewalks at different heights, humps and drops in some places that make the walkways unusable for a stroller, bicycle, or wheelchair, and at least one location where the concrete sidewalk actually crosses a roadway. Those deficiencies might be a result of poor work done by Mortons, but are just as likely a result of poor prep work or bad instructions from LaFayette Public Works. Public Works also never did any followup work, and a year after work ended construction debris still blocks one section of walkway and nobody’s bothered putting dirt in the deep gaps between the sidewalks and curbs. The walkways look OK if you’re driving by them at 40 MPH, but for those who walk or ride around town they’re functionally lacking.

That kind of quality work, done sporadically as grants are made available, is all the citizens of LaFayette can expect to see as long as the current batch of councilmen remain in charge of allocating funds for infrastructure repair and maintenance. Poor-condition streets, such as Probasco, Chattanooga, and Cherokee, may not be repaved for years – and seriously needed upgrades like building more sidewalks or widening single-lane “streets” like Enloe, Jones, or 3rd Ave. will never be done under the current regime.

Addressing those issues would cost serious money, but even inexpensive projects aren’t being handled. Minor work such as striping streets, fixing damaged signs, and cleaning out the ditches and sewers (to keep heavy rain from damaging roads) isn’t done regularly if at all by LaFayette Public Works.

But not to fear. LaFayette’s leaders are working hard to correct this problem; not by actually doing road maintenance, but by using their neglect as a convenient excuse to get more federal money. Earlier this month the city announced it would receive 75% reimbursement from FEMA and an additional 10% funding from the state to do approximately $350,000 of road repairs supposedly related to last September’s record flooding.

$180,000 of that estimated cost is for major repairs to Magnolia St., which the city claims sustained severe damage during the floods. However, our own close-up examination of Magnolia revealed little actual damage, no washed out ruts or collapsing pavement – only the humps, potholes, and inadequate ditches and drainage found along most of the city’s neglected thoroughfares. Again we aren’t engineers, but there’s no clear indication of why Magnolia needs work done any more than any other residential street in West LaFayette or Linwood, or why it gets priority over more trafficked streets like the ones mentioned above – but it is clear that most of the work needed on Magnolia is just basic maintenance the city should have been doing all along.

Letting infrastructure fall apart and then demanding federal money to repair it after an emergency is comparable to a man who refuses to do basic maintenance on his house and then demands help from his neighbors when his roof falls off. Not only is it irresponsible, it’s also dishonest – and won’t work forever.

That approach to upkeep is clearly visible with the city’s attitude towards its facilities, as demonstrated below:

WQCH, February 9, 2010:

    THE LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL ACCEPTED THE LOW BID MONDAY, FOR A NEW ROOF ON THE PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING… AND GOT A PROGRESS REPORT ON FOUR NEW SOFTBALL FIELDS UNDER CONSTRUCTION.

    KEN MAPLES CONSTRUCTION WAS AWARDED THE BID ON THE ROOF CONTRACT AT 96-THOUSAND 170-DOLLARS. THE PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING HOUSES THE FIRE AND POLICE DEPARTMENTS IN THE FORMER COCA COLA BUILDING ON NORTH MAIN. PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR TOMMY FREEMAN SAID THE NEW ROOF PLAN WILL BE SHAPED SIMILAR TO THE HIP-ROOF DESIGN ON THE MARSH HOUSE NEARBY… AND WILL STOP A SERIOUS SET OF LEAKS THAT HAVE DAMAGED THE BUILDING’S INTERIOR. THE HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMISSION HAD ASKED THE COUNCIL TO DELAY 30 DAYS TO LOOK AT OTHER, MORE HISTORICALLY-APPROPRIATE DESIGNS FOR THE NEW ROOF. BUT WITH MOLD PROBLEMS ALREADY THREATENING THE HEALTH OF FIRE FIGHTERS IN THE BUILDING… COUNCILMAN ERIC TALENT SAID “WE NEED TO CHOOSE PEOPLE OVER HISTORY, AND GET THIS ROOF REPAIRED QUICKLY.”

    THE COUNCIL WAS ALSO PRESENTED AN ESTIMATE ON THE COST OF BUILDING A NEW SOFTBALL COMPLEX AT THE LOWELL GREEN RECREATION CENTER IN LINWOOD. IT WAS 269-THOUSAND DOLLARS… NOT COUNTING ELECTRICAL AND OTHER WORK THAT THE CITY WILL HANDLE WITH ITS OWN EMPLOYEES. FUNDS FOR THE SOFTBALL COMPLEX ARE COMING FROM THE SPLOST PENNY SALES TAX.

The previous council meeting in January revealed how FEMA will only award the city $9,500 to repair interior damage, not reroof the facility. This is probably because the roof’s bad condition was as much from disrepair as from the September floods – if rain alone could do that kind of roof damage every home and business in town would have been leaking after September’s record rains. The floods just accelerated a problem that already existed, and now the city (or rather its residents) are on the hook for a quick-bid $96,000 sloped metal roof that will look ridiculous on the previously flat-roof Coca-Cola Building. Meanwhile SPLOST funds that should have been used to replace the roof in a historically-appropriate way before leaks began are being spent on softball fields nobody asked for. This is the same philosophy applied to road maintenance: Let them fall into complete disrepair and then seek outside help to fix the mess, covering costs out of the general budget only when the situation devolves into an outright emergency.

LaFayette has enough money at its disposal to at least do basic maintenance to roads, sidewalks, and buildings. Even if direct property tax revenue wasn’t sufficient (which it should be), the city’s share of SPLOST could be employed to repair roads and sidewalks – that is, afterall, what SPLOST was advertised to do when it was last put up for a vote in July 2008. Unfortunately that 1% tax paid by everyone who shops in Walker County isn’t being used to repair roads, bridges, and sidwalks – it’s going to pay off bonds that covered the construction of LaFayette’s new golf course clubhouse ($1.4 million), Joe Stock Park Christmas lights ($29,000), the new softball complex at Lowell Greene mentioned above, and other equally “crucial” projects in the city and county. Most of LaFayette’s estimated $3.69 million cut of Walker County’s SPLOST revenues over the next five years has already been invested into those, which means we’re paying for them with every trip to the store from now until 2013. What hasn’t already been spent on frivolous projects has apparently been saved up for future silliness, since it’s obviously not going into road repairs or other infrastructure improvements.

Walker County isn’t much better than LaFayette in regards to its infrastructure priorities. Residents on East Reed Rd. are still in limbo, waiting on the county to begin work on bridge repairs that have interrupted traffic there since the September floods. As we discussed previously, the county deferred those repairs to FEMA – meaning that a simple job that could have been done in a few weeks for less than $30,000 has grown into a $90,000 $200,000+ project that hasn’t even begun some five months later due to red tape and federal standards for bridge construction.

Chattanooga Times Free Press, January 24, 2010:

    Mr. Ashburn said Catoosa County did the project before its funding was approved by FEMA, a gamble Walker County couldn’t afford.

    “They took a chance,” he said. “They’ve got a lot more money than we do.”

That’s how Walker County Administrator David Ashburn explains the county’s lack of action compared to Catoosa County’s prompt repair of their own flood damaged roads. Walker County won’t be doing any road repairs unless it has FEMA funding in hand. If FEMA hadn’t agreed to cover the project’s cost, inconvenienced residents of Noble might never see the E. Reed Rd. bridge repaired.

Ashburn promised in late January to move bidding up a few weeks to get the project started by the end of February, but the first bids were not taken until last Friday, February 27th. It was announced today that the lowest bid received was not around $89,000 as FEMA originally projected, but rings in at some $192,600 – plus additional expenses for “moving utilities” and engineering that will bring it in right at $220 grand. Assuming FEMA is willing to eat the extra costs (and there’s no guarantee they will) it could take up to two months for construction to be completed, so at this point we’re looking at a solid nine or ten month turnaround and $220,000 price tag on a job that Joe Backhoe could have done (at least temporarily) with a culvert and a truckload of gravel for a couple hundred dollars on October 1st.

Ashburn himself admits that Walker County’s road budget at $1.8 million is about half what it was ten years ago and notes that the county is requesting $1.4 million in funding from FEMA. Ten years ago the county had a commissioner who made county roads a priority and managed to get most of them repaved during his one term in office. Today we have a commissioner who cut the road budget to the point that nothing gets fixed until it completely fails and FEMA has to bail us out.

Just like the city of LaFayette, Walker County suffers from no lack of SPLOST funds, it just has its priorities pointed in the wrong direction. Our earlier report mentioned how the county spent $90,000 of SPLOST on a water tank for the new (and unnecessary) Villanow community center, and we don’t need to get back into how much the county spent buying property in Kensington. Even as the situation on East Reed Rd. remains dangerous, commissioner Heiskell has been sinking more county funds into doing “studies” for a new highway to link I-24 to Rossville (Hwy. 27 apparently isn’t good enough anymore) and to improve traffic flow in Chickamauga along Osburne Rd. Osburne Rd. is notable only for a single feature: it’s the main connector to Oakwood Baptist Church.

The county is also doing preemptive work to elevate Lee-Clarkson Rd. in Chickamauga to allow for evacuation in the case of another flood like the one in September. The residents of Noble, meanwhile, can’t even get retroactive work done on their failed bridge that presents an issue now instead of being a potential problem during the next 500-year flood.

Bebe Heiskel and David Ashburn are “burning their bridges” (pun intended) with this issue, and neither should expect to ever receive another vote from the residents of Noble. Hopefully Noble’s residents are also beginning to understand what SPLOST really is and where their SPLOST dollars are going.

Some of the infrastructure neglect comes down to that kind of favoritism, spending money in Chickamauga while Noble and other areas of the county suffer, and some of it is outright discrimination on the part of leaders who have no desire to fix the streets and sidewalks where “those people” live. Much of the disrepair observable in the city and county also comes down to backwards priorities: golf courses, tourist attractions, FiSDOP toys, and powerful churches are more important than making sure the residents have safe, usable streets and sidewalks in front of their homes, businesses, and schools.

Many upper class citizens look down upon “those people” who become dependent on welfare; the citizens who cash continual government checks instead of working. They are also the first to condemn parents who use food stamps, WIC, and other benefits to buy food for their children while purchasing toys or addictive drugs for their own pleasure. Yet none will stand up and condemn the city and county leaders who cash federal government checks instead of using tax dollars wisely, and who use FEMA, bailout finds, and other benefits to buy essentials (like asphalt) for their constituents while saving the city’s own money to fund toys and addictive hobbies for their own pleasure. Abuse of emergency money and bailout funds is no less immoral than the abuse of welfare, and becoming dependent on outside money to pay for essentials while emptying the budget to pay for toys is no better than making your kids eat government cheese while you shop for a big screen TV.

The primary role of local government is to provide basic services that cannot be provided by private businesses. Police, fire protection, and infrastructure are the primary reasons for city and county government to exist, but in our community those entities are failing to meet their responsibilities towards the infrastructure. Expecting the federal government to pay for repairing our local roads is as nonsensical as expecting the city of LaFayette to field an army or set up an embassy in Bahrain.

As much as Walker County and the City of LaFayette focus on tourism, on building attractions and features to draw in outsiders, and on enticing businesses to relocate here, they fail to do simple things like repair roads that would make the area more appealing to everyone. Repaired roads and usable sidewalks alone won’t necessarily draw in tourists, businesses, and new residents – but they would go a long way to keep those visitors coming back. We can’t expect people to want to visit, work, or live here when many city streets look like something from a third-world country and the county can’t handle small construction projects like the East Reed bridge in an acceptable amount of time.

Beyond the impact on outsiders, local people need to come first. Not just locals living on Duke St. or in Chickamauga, but every citizen who drives on the roads or walks on the sidewalks. Instead of sinking SPLOST money and property tax revenues into questionable tourist traps and upper-class hobbies, local leaders should prioritize making the area more livable for residents who pay property and sales taxes in the first place.

We don’t think it’s unreasonable for city and county agencies to set a goal of repaving 10% of the roads in their jurisdiction each year. That would give everyone fresh pavement once a decade, which translates into better neighborhoods and safer streets that would benefit both those who live here and those who visit. We also think it’s reasonable (in fact it’s common sense) for the local powers-that-be to keep adequate funds on hand to cover road emergencies and prioritize SPLOST funds so that basic needs are met before that money goes into building luxuries.

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57 comments so far

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  1. May we call you Fletch?

    Wonderful investigating. But you failed to mention the removal and repainting of the turning lanes, which left unsightly “scars” the length of Mains Street. I wonder how much that cost?

    I also wondered how much the new sidewalks were costing us when they were being contructed. I wouldn’t have paid $1000 dollars for the whole project knowing how they have turned out. The potential lawsuits just aren’t worth it. Why are some of the sidewalks 2 1/2 feet high? Not only is that expensive, it’s outright dangerous!

  2. I’ll take that as a compliment! “The actor has said that the appeal of the character is ‘the cheekiness of the guy…everybody at that age would like to be as quick-witted as Fletch, and as uncaring about what others think.'”

    The repainted turning lanes, at least at the intersection of S. Main and W. Main (193), was to push back the stop line so trucks would have enough room to turn without flattening cars. It was painted that way before and the contractor did it wrong after they got done – it just partially corrects the issue of not having right-hand turn lanes there. The contractor should have paid to fix that and other striping mistakes unless they were done per bad instructions from the city. The contractor should also pay for pothole repair, but they’re probably claiming it’s the city’s fault for their prep work or a utility failure underneath the road. Either way, the city or state should have forced them to fix it or taken care of the problem in-house several months ago.

    GDOT doesn’t have time or resources to fix the pavement on S. Main St. but they apparently have plenty of extra people standing around who can hunt for traces of Fort Cummings: http://catwalkchatt.com/printer_friendly/6405916 . They should ask that guy, since he’s in town anyway, to lift the pavement chunks off the pothole and then we can at least drive on the street even if it’s left a bit rough.

    The state grant for sidewalk construction, if it’s the same one (and how can it not be?), was supposed to pay for sidewalks, park benches, burying power lines, and planting trees along Patton, Cherokee, and North Main. Not sure how that translated into half-done sidewalks on Patton, Cherokee, and Chattanooga, but I find it handy that the walkways now extend down to the mayor’s pharmacy. The funds used in ’08 were the first installment of what’s supposed to come in at several million dollars in the end. I can’t wait to see what the city does with the NEXT quarter-million.

    Morton Construction that did the sidewalk work is the same contractor responsible for the golf course clubhouse and the ongoing softball field projects. Alpharetta is a good way off – is there nobody north of Atlanta qualified to pour a sidewalk or build a ballfield? And if the sidewalks are any indicator of their attention to detail the clubhouse will fall in next summer and the softball fields will be built six feet off the ground with no way to get into it without a ladder.

    Jeff Mullis, Chickamauga’s state senator, is working hard to make the state more eligible for federal bailout funds: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2010/feb/11/bill-could-bring-more-federal-road-money/ . Hopefully he won’t be successful if this kind of work is what we get out of the funding. Federal money and the guidelines that come with it take simple projects that should cost a few thousand dollars and make them hundred-thousand-dollar jobs that end up being poorly done. Just look at what’s happening with the E. Reed Rd. bridge. FEMA’s involvement will end up making that job cost a quarter million (or more) when it shouldn’t have taken more than a few thousand bucks. The story is on WQCH’s site today, check it out before they take it down.

    An idea for Walker County: Catoosa County hired its own crews and bought its own equipment to do road-striping in house. They’re saving a lot of money compared to what an outside contractor would have charged for the same work, plus the residents of Catoosa get restriped roads and the people doing the work live there instead of in Alpharetta or Calhoun. Might be something to consider. http://www.catwalkchatt.com/printer_friendly/5257947

    Thanks for your readership.

    — The LaFayette Underground

  3. “The repainted turning lanes, at least at the intersection of S. Main and W. Main (193), was to push back the stop line so trucks would have enough room to turn without flattening cars.”

    Probably won’t make much difference. Many drivers will ignore the stop lines as they always do.

    The repainting I was refering to ran the length off Main Street. It looks as if they painted the lane too wide.

    BTW, if you haven’t seen Fletch, your missing a classic Chase comedy.

  4. 1) The “Road Work” being done at the end of Main Street really gets on my nerves. Almost got in a wreck yesterday because I was turning left out of the Dollar General, so I got in the turning lane, where I was supposed to go. But people going North have to use the turning lane as their main lane. It’s been like this forever! How many pylons do we have to flatten before this gets finished?
    2) The East Reed Road Bridge and FEMA. Just brings back the memories of the Thursday I moved to Brown Estates townhouses, went to North Carolina for the weekend, and came back on Sunday to find my new apartment and car underwater. I was super-OCD in making sure I had everything FEMA needed, because all my stuff got damaged or looted. My African-American roommate, who barely even filled out her application (after my constant nagging), got all kinds of stuff. I got zilch. The longer that bridge looks like that, the longer that is going to stay in my memory as one of the crappiest things to happen to me.
    3) Lee Clarkson Road. That’s where I work. On one hand, it would be nice if they could fix it. We were under water for a few days when aforementioned flood happened. On the other hand, that’s a more narrow road to do what they did to the road mentioned in #1…I can see torn up roads and pylons everywhere being a constant pain in my you-know-what!
    4) The picture taken in front of Movies-n-More got me thinking…isn’t it funny that Movies-n-More is the last surviving video store in Lafayette? He doesn’t even open until 2 or 3 in the afternoon! Not dissing David because he’s my buddy, but I do think it’s funny he’s out-cockroached both Movie Gallery AND Blockbuster. :)

  5. Lucas:
    This is true, I know from personal experience most idiot drivers ignore the line. BUT if the line is in the right place and a bus or semi-truck hits a car sitting past it, the fault is definitely on the car’s driver and not the bus or truck driver (or the road contractor). As for the repainted side lines, I assume you mean on North Main along the sector between Wendy’s and Hardee’s – I wondered what was up with that, and it is still noticeable. I also observed the city digging holes in the pavement through there, about where Indiana St. crosses – I guess that contract clause about not digging up the pavement for utility work didn’t mean much to Public Works.

    Jebbica:
    Like I said, it’s dangerous. During rush hour we can have buses, walking kids, trucks, cars, everything else imaginable on the sidewalks, in the turn lanes, and trying to get back out in the road all in that same spot. WPIE can’t even open their front gate because of the traffic cones.

    FEMA is like most of the government, it comes with a lot of strings and stipulations that make it hardly worth the money. Raising Lee-Clarkson might go better than the Main St. paving job, but I don’t think preparing for the NEXT 500-year flood (which would theoretically be 500 years from now) should take priority over fixing bridges and roads that need repairs today for last year’s flooding. Everything Chickamauga gets done before the rest of the county, and it’s no coincidence that most of the county’s leadership and a lot of its old money families live out there even if a majority of the population doesn’t.

    Movies N More has a better selection than Blockbuster. Heck my house has a better selection than Blockbuster. Movie Gallery was a bit better but they were in a bad place unless you lived at Carriage Hills, and the C-Hills customers probably walked off with a lot of their inventory… With Food Lion closed they couldn’t make it in that location. MNM is close to a large population center, it’s convenient for people who can walk and pick up a movie, and is convenient for people heading home from Roper and Shaw. Plus they probably have a lot lower overhead since their building looks like it belongs in Haiti. Local business will endure when the owners don’t give up easily. There’s a future story about that somewhere in our notes.

    Welcome readers referred here from the CatWalkChatt site! Feel free to look around, read the older postings, and don’t hesitate to join the discussion.

    — The LaFayette Underground

  6. The thing I liked about working at Movie Gallery was their selection. I would always use my free rentals on the “weird movies” that no one ever rented. They would have sidewalk sales and sell movies for like $2 or something. One time I remember I got really excited because this lady was going to buy “Maria, Full of Grace”. I told her it was a really good movie, and she wanted to know more about it. I started telling her, and at some point I let it slip that there were subtitles in the movie. She put it back. I am the worst salesperson ever! Now I just abuse my critic status to get whatever screeners I want, but yea for M&M! Great for movies, just don’t drop your electronics off there…they will be obsolete by the time you get them back! :) He has had my DS for about four years now….

  7. I was just thinking this morning that the reason that the government officials in this town have SUV’s and trucks is because of the potholes in the roads. I have lost count how many times I have hit potholes and thought that I just smashed the front of my car. I was excited when they started repaving Main St./Hwy 27 Bus. Of course I knew that it would only be a matter of time before something else happened to cause them to tear part of it up.

    As far as my business ‘Movies & More’ is concerned I appreciate the compliments that were given. To address what seemed like complaints I understand that the building that I am located in is in poor shape and do apologize for that. It was hard keeping a business operating during the past few years, I have only been in control for a little over 3 years now, due to the recession and for whatever reason one year my City of LaFayette Utility bill was over $900 a month during which it was not possible to perform needed repairs on my building. At times I had to make a choice of eating or keeping the business alive, the fact that I still have a running store I’m sure that you can guess which one I chose. Now that Movie Gallery and Blockbuster are gone I have noticed an increase of business, which I am thankful for. Without the good citizens of LaFayette there’s no way to tell where I would have ended up or what I would be doing. I also do not like the fact that I open later then most stores. It’s difficult at times to be at work at or before noon due to having to stay so late. There is a great deal of work that must be done after closing most of the time I don’t get to leave until after midnight. One thing I have done is refused to raise my rental prices which were lower and still are then both Movie Gallery and Blockbuster when they were open. I want to keep things as affordable and enjoyable as possible for everyone, most businesses that end up running short or in a bind will raise prices which in my opinion are just a step backwards. Also being a citizen of LaFayette means that the revenue that comes through my store stays in LaFayette going back to the local businesses and the community, with the exception of what goes to the movie studios. I don’t know how my selection is compared to others but I do know that I have over 10,000 titles and growing. I am in the process of getting repairs performed which the more important ones are not visible to customers. But visible improvements to the interior and exterior of the store should start being seen within the month. As far as the situation with Jebbica’s DS is concerned I do express my deepest apologies for that it was just a misunderstanding and I am the process of getting that corrected as quickly as possible.

    I also apologize for the majority of this comment being off the topic of the original post about the poor quality of the roads.

    Respectfully,
    David R. Rucker

  8. Oh David, I was only kidding about the DS! What are friends for if we can’t rag on each other! I heart you! May your bid-ness live long and prosper! Emphasis on prosper!

  9. There were a lot of exclamation marks in that comment!!!

  10. One last thing: The website looks great, David! Don’t worry about the DS, though do you still have that camera that I gave Nathan and you were going to fix the shutter thingy? I might want to take it to Disney World with me…it takes much clearer pictures than mine, even though mine is allegedly “nicer”.

  11. David:

    The comments about your building weren’t meant to disparage you or the business, just saying that being in a cheaper facility in a cheaper part of town might by why you’ve managed to survive. I understand having to put off building repairs and skip meals in order to keep a small business going, and we appreciate your patience and how much you’ve put into the store. A 10,000-title library is pretty impressive, and that selection is also going to set you apart in the long run. Part of why Netflix has been so successful is their broad selection of titles; if you just want just the newest crap go to RedBox or something but for true movie lovers (the ones who will pay higher prices and be more loyal in the long run) you’ve got to maintain a library. Blockbuster always lost my business because they didn’t have enough selection. And your power bill problems aren’t exclusive to you, there’s almost no manner or method to the way power bills are determined in this city.

    No fear about being off-topic, your comments are most welcome; we appreciate them and your readership along with your hard work to keep the store alive and growing. I’ll have to drop in some time and check out some of your selection.

    — The LaFayette Underground

  12. Misery enjoys company.

    Rossville is using bailout funds to repave McFarland Ave. Same contractor that did the job in LaFayette, probably the same contract details. Hope you Rossville folks like cones!

    http://catwalkchatt.com/printer_friendly/6567250

    — The LaFayette Underground

  13. This vessel, dedicated to the dissemination of sensitive, unpopular, but none-the-less true information, appears to be in a quandary concerning the pertinence of the maintenance performed on Magnolia Street.

    If I may, please let me present you with the short form.

    Approximately spring of ’95 Mr. Fred Henry commissioned Mr. Charles Wardlaw (County Surveyor) to constuct a dwelling @ the corner of Magnolia & Bomar (1010) for a city employee Mr. Henry was fond of.

    Prior to the building of this dwelling, on the last undeveloped parcel of the old P.D. Fortune subdivision, an old storm-water ditch, 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep carried 6 football field lenghts of rain-water across the front of this parcel, safely down the hill and into the larger 36′ main connecting to even larger water-ways in a controlled and compliant (with State and Federal Law) manner.

    Mr. Henry’s friend didn’t care for this “unsightly” ditch in his front yard. This 100 year-old ditch was filled with dirt, fertilized and sown with beautiful grass, giving the new owner a yard anyone could be proud of……..But with catastrophic consequences to residents and home-owners for a distance of 3 city blocks.

    This one sole act (sanctioned) cost literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in destruction to private property and structural damage to dwellings of residents caught in the swath of this torrent of liquid destruction. Point-in-fact, view 1005 Magnolia. You can’t miss it. It has had a 2 foot high sea-wall erected around it in a last-ditch effort to protect the residence (that’s someone’s HOME….). Seeing is believing.

    Addressing the issue with the Municipality brings new meaning to the term “exercise in futility”. Not our fault, not our responsibility, don’t know, can’t find records….ad nauseum. My personal favorite is “It’s YOUR fault”………?

    Poignantly enough, with all due respect, it was the Baptist Church (Ridgeview) that actually initiated an active response on the part of the City. When the excessive rainfall recieved in October ’09 wet the carpet in front of the Minister’s podium the Municipality decided it “may” be time to act upon this issue (after a decade of begging and pleading by people that LIVE HERE…..). Before I close, I wish to inject a minute of humour.

    As always, respectful of other people and thier beliefs, it has been my experience that the Baptist BELIEVE IN THAT WATER, except when it’s running down thier britches-legs. Then it becomes an entirely different issue………

    In closing, everyone from one end of the food-chain to the other was made aware of the obstacles being encountered in this Magnolia Street area (and surrounding areas) and the Municipality (Chief Administrator Mr. Johnnie Arnold and Mayor Neal Florence) made it CRYSTAL clear, they did not care. They had much more pressing issues that demanded thier utmost attention. 4+million $ Golf-Course Club-Houses (that will not pay for it-self until after thier great-great-great grand-children are drawing social security….maybe) and numerous other sorted/worthless expenditures of our (MY) tax-dollars.

    If you re-elect them, your complaints and/or arguements will fall upon deaf ears.

    I just hope this shed a little light upon the “delimma” of The Magnolia Street Project.

  14. Isn’t it funny that most of the “new” sidewalks all lead to the same place? A business owned and operated by the mayor of LaFayette, Medi-Thrift Pharmacy…..so it goes without saying that the “leaders” (and I use that term very lightly) are using city money as their own personal piggy bank to further their own agendas. Of all the things this town needs, having a poorly executed job done on sidewalks should have been further down the list. People are right and justified when they say that changes will never occur while the current regime is still running the show, but trying to convince the alumni of Walker County into changing their votes the next go around is pointless. I for one voted YES on liquor by the drink not because I want to get drunk out of my mind, get behind the wheel and kill somebody. I can get drunk by going to any gas station, Wal-Mart, etc. and buying all the beer I want. But some people forget that if that was approved, then maybe some of the bigger restaurant chains would look at our little town and decide to bring business here. Then, we would attract business from Chattooga and Dade counties if not more. A lot of people say it is immoral or whatever to approve such a thing, but didn’t the same people use that argument when the lottery was first being discussed? And now, when I go to get gas or buy cigarettes, those same people are the ones holding up the line to cash in and buy more lottery tickets. Just because a business offers alcohol with your meal doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Some say it is to protect the children….but what they don’t realize is we were all children at one point in our lives…and didn’t we sneak around and do the things our own parents told us NOT to do? You can’t protect children by shielding them from the world!!

  15. Sorry, Daniel. I don’t think that LBTD would attract the big restaurant chains to LaFayette considering our current economic situation. They do not move into an area in order to boost an economy, but to thrive off it.

    Liquor is the last solution of the desperate.

    “Some say it is to protect the children….but what they don’t realize is we were all children at one point in our lives…and didn’t we sneak around and do the things our own parents told us NOT to do?”

    Is that really justification for making it EASIER for children to do wrong?

  16. No it’s a realization of reality. Perhaps it wouldn’t bring in new business (I’m open to that possibility as well) but in our current economic situation, it seems to be at the point of last resorts.

  17. I have to say that I agree with Lucas more on this issue. I, for one, think it is of more wisdom to shield kids from the world until they are solid and knowledgeable enough to deal with and to understand the world and they do not have to gain that understanding by lying, cheating, stealing, drinking, sleeping around, etc. Kids can learn things by see how other people live their lives so miserably, and this is evident all around us from those people who fail to protect their children from very young ages.

    And I also agree that liquor by the drink won’t have LaFayette. It may boost the current resturants income a little bit, but other than going out to eat in town (which is sadly limited as it is) what else is there to do? No matter what, for a real night out, you’ve got to leave town. No business is going to look at our crappy streets, are empty buildings, our trash all along the sides of the road, the current struggling businesses and our horrible zoning laws and unfriendly city council and decide to come here just because they can serve alcohol here. They can somewhere else too, and those places are all probably doing much better than LaFayette. Plus, we would NOT want any of our thousands of golfers to leave the golf course and its beautiful and tax-worthy club house where they can by liquor by the drink already to go to those restaurants!

  18. “No it’s a realization of reality. Perhaps it wouldn’t bring in new business (I’m open to that possibility as well) but in our current economic situation, it seems to be at the point of last resorts.”

    I think they have skipped the hard work and jumped straight to the last resort.

    If the government of this city would admit the truth about our economic situation and commit to buckling down and sweating it out to fix it, we could probably have the chain restaurants everybody wants. I’m sure the people of LaFayette, if allowed access to vital data, could come up with a solution to many of the problems that plague LaFayette yet seem to go unnoticed by our current leadership.

  19. I agree with you there….and if they would reorganize their priorities into a plan that would help the city. As far as ever getting access to the vital data you speak of, that will never happen. Because then the people would know where are the money is going.

  20. The people/leadership that is being complained about is going to either retire out, or die of old age before they do anything productive for this city. This is a given that they are well aware of……………..

  21. Actually, LU, I was refering to the center turning lane. From about Taco Bell south, the lines had to be scrubbed and repainted about 1 1\2 feet closer to the center.

    I also noticed today that much of the paint is already badly faded. It may be the salt and gravel, but some parts of the lines look years old.

  22. Just as a point of interest……the $270,000 softball complex is now projected to cost $540,000. Guess they couldn’t find a better way to spend the money.

  23. Let the good ole boy’s roll. What town is SB 456 geared towards? hmm…
    http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2010/mar/09/house-approves-local-school-board-oversight/#comments

  24. I wish they would come in and remove some of our city council members along with some of the school board members :D

  25. Hey chefdavid & KTB,

    It sure would be nice to have a rider tacked-on to that Bill that included ALL elected officals being exempted from thier “Diplomatic Immunity” that they are so fond of abusing around here these days………………..I’m just curious as to how one would go about getting that done.

  26. Presented for your approval : Maryland/roadwork/layover/8 mths past.

    Small township, 1/3 the size of La Fayette. Downtown, you could sit outside, at a table on a red-brick patio at 10 PM, and drink your choice, of alcoholic beverage and smoke (out-side, of course…).

    The town was CLEAN, WELL-LIT, and quite. Peaceful and respectful. Law-enforcement may have been present………maybe not.

    Men, women, children………families walked the streets, unafraid, visiting businesses, eating, watching real movies at theatres. JUST LIKE IT USED TO BE HERE………..

    What happened? Are people north of the Mason-Dixon Line behind us, or in front of us?

    I do not feel it is money or local. It’s something else. Something, that (bad as I hate to admit…) they refuse to tolerate………………………

  27. Heard on WQCH this morning (4/13/10) that the softball field bill is now $600,000+ since the last city council meeting.

  28. Ok. Weather has been warm and dry for a while. Where’s the work crew to repair the hole?

  29. Not to take away from the gripes of the weary ,but the police station looks great.

  30. Admittedly the police station roof looks pretty good, better than expected. It’s not historically accurate but it works. They had to take down some of the building features that would have stuck up through the roof and bricked up some windows on the Joe Stock Park side, which damages the building’s historical character but overall the roofline looks good.

    Did they move the tornado siren, leave it inside the new roof, or just take it down entirely?

    — The LaFayette Underground

  31. The siren has not been moved yet.

  32. The roof looked better until they finished putting siding on the top part… Looks like cheap vinyl siding with vinyl ventilation covers. Surely they could have found something to cover that part with that looked a little more historical and a little less trailer-park, or at least used a different color from the roofing material. The north side of the building (the Joe Stock Park side) looks rough because of some details they removed.. Hard to explain, I’ll try to shoot a photo of that on the Facebook soon. Overall it looks better than we expected but still probably could have been done better if they hadn’t waited until the roof was in dangerous condition and then took lowest bid to fix it.

    — The LaFayette Underground

  33. IT LOOKS GREAT!!

  34. Respect for historical structure ? The origional Golf Course Club-House, that was demolished @ tax-payer’s expense, pre-dated The War of Northern Aggression.

  35. alicia:

    The one torn down last summer was built in 1992 using prisoner labor, its predecessor burned to the ground the prior year.

    — The LaFayette Underground

  36. Sorry LU,

    I sit corrected. ‘Can’t help but wonder ‘tho. Are they still using the same electrical contractor ?

  37. “The Laughing Clown Show”, also laughingly referred to as “The 5.0 Club” has failed to post their “Minutes” from their “Agenda” (if you call it that it akes it sound like it is something…..) for over 5 working days.

    The City Council is under the impression they have the capacity to operate this township like they are a miniature Langley………….Right.

    Louie’s (Faracon) negative, Mr. Bow-tie & and most learned council (Bobby Lee, he is not, by any stretch of the imagination…) has been given the burden of writting of script, in order to exercise as much “plausible deniability” as possible. Perhaps they need to get a little better help, and not just “team players”.

    Mr. Arnold (City Manager) is in charge of the “day to day working of the city municipality” (loosely quoted from La Fa.home page…)

    Administration is not held responsible for “Knowing everything to the most minute detail”, but, they should be held responsible for being able to recognize, demand, and hire competent employees, that DO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING…………..

    This City Manager, hired by Ronald McFlorence, without a doubt, is not…………

  38. Alicia ,it appears you are drinking again !

  39. Photos of the Public Safety building roof are posted to the LU Facebook page, which can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/people/Lu-LaFayette/100000735727554 .

    — The LaFayette Underground

  40. There you go thinking again sidewinder. Stick with something you’re good at. I never stop…………………..

  41. I think overall it looks pretty good. I like that style of roof…while maybe not accurate to that building, its architecturally historical. I do agree that the vinyl at the top is not the best choice, but it still looks pretty good. No credit should go to the City Council though, I am pretty sure they had nothing to do with the design or even of making any sense of any of the project because it is not the golf course.

  42. I belieive I’m going to leave ‘yall with it. ‘Been trying to tell people here for years what this Administration is about and up to, and they would look at you like you were insane.

    Well, people are act like they are finally waking up from their stupor and opening their eyes.

    As for me, I’m tired of repeating myself and talking to brick walls until I’m blue in the face.

    I hold nothing less that the utmost contempt for these misceates that set on high, put their hands over their hearts as they pledge allegiance to this county (I find that obscene and deeply disturbing….) and having to tolerate them and thier cronies slapping themelves on the back, telling each other what a “Good” job they have done.

    I’m done. No more complaints, information, facts or prima facia evidence that is so plain to intellegent people, Ray Charles could have seen it.

    So, I depart from this earhtly electron flow, to sit and watch nature (around here) take it’s course.

    First Baptist Church will re-elect the same clowns again (or direct clones……..) as they always have and will continue to do.(Unless of course, someone receives authorization to dial-in a couple of Fast-Movers, and have the ass to use it………….)

    Alicia, down and OUT

  43. Alicia,glad you are gone !!

  44. Maybe I lied. I’m still learning (got good teachers around here………). I might just hang around long enough to let you get REAL UNglad!!

    Just because I can……………….

  45. By the by,

    YOU broke the golden rule there sidewinder. Since your alias indicates you are not from around here, perhaps you should go back to the sand-pit you came from, before you are made painfully aware of what “Don’t Tread On Me” truly means………….

  46. damn

  47. ALICIA,JUST SO YOU KNOW I LIVE IN LAFAYETTE , DUMB—

  48. There you go again sidewinder.

    It does not make a sh*t where you live. “DUMB-” people live everywhere, as you have made abuntantly clear.

    Your intelligence does not permit you to even recognize the one simple point that YOU asked for…………

    NEVER DIRECT SNIDE, FLIPPANT, SMART-ASS REMARKS TO ANYONE, PERSONALLY, ON THIS WEB SITE!

    If you were not raised with any better manners and civility about you than that, WE BOTH NEED TO STAY OFF THIS WEB SITE, just for different reasons……..DUMB-

  49. Addendum:

    Sidewinders are not “indigenous” to this area, how-ever, timber rattlers (Union Jack) are………………………………………..

  50. Alicia,thanks for the words of encouragement . I am soooo happy now!

  51. By the way sidewinder means left handed. I’m sure you knew that. – – – – – – – !

  52. If one didn’t know better, they would think you were experiencing an identity crisis…..

  53. thanks, i feel better now.

  54. The roof does not look that bad…..would have been better to do a “period -correct” style….but that beats roof leaks and mold……on the other hand it is the city so they still have time to screw it up!!

  55. It’s nice to know you’re feeling better. There is entirely too many things in this world to make one feel bad.

    If you begin to feel a little strange or uncomfortable about, just things in general…..Perhaps a discreet word to your care-giver about possibly increasing your daily dosage, keeping a little closer eye on you when you are in public, or on the internet, wouldn’t hurt.

    Just trying to be helpful………….Sincerely.

  56. Alicia,as someone who knows you , if you want to help move to China.

  57. Didn’t mean to step on your Daddy’s toes, or by any means, your white, patent-leather golf-shoes, Jake.

    Make no mistake.

    You don’t know me………..That is a bet you can take to the bank, and draw interest on.