Before Monday’s LaFayette council meeting, Ben Bradford was sworn back in as a councilman by city attorney David Gottlieb. He joins new mayor Andy Arnold and new councilman Beacher Garmany, who were sworn in on January 2nd, along with the existing council – Wayne Swanson, Judy Meeks, and Chris Davis.

Councilman Ben Bradford Sworn In

During the meeting, the council formally voted to create a singular “utilities department” directed by Jim Spier.

Wally Meeks, son of councilor Judy Meeks and brother of LPD detective Stacey will now be in charge of the water department since Spier is promoted to Utilities Director. (Ms. Meeks did not recuse herself from that vote, which is somewhat squishy.)

City leaders also voted to ask the state for an increase in the hotel/motel tax and changed the city charter so meetings scheduled on holidays can be moved to the following day.

Minutes from the meeting aren’t yet on the city Web site, but much detail has been shared through the city’s Facebook page. More from Monday’s session will be discussed on LU throughout the next week.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Late Thursday night and into Friday morning, Floyd county authorities were searching for a missing Rome boy. Search helicopters flew as far north as Armuchee, close to the Walker/Floyd line.

Ashton Swearinger, age 10, disappeared after getting off his school bus Thursday afternoon. He was eventually found hiding behind a building shortly before 10 AM.   Tiny Facebook

Will Sabec

23-year-old Will Sabec, accused of molesting an 11-year-old girl and exposing himself to a 10-year-old boy in LaFayette last summer, was finally arrested last week in Whitfield County. He currently resides in Walker County Jail.

(A photo of Sabec and an account of the accusations against him were shared on LU Facebook back in July. That post was the most viewed LU social media post of all time, shared nearly 600 times and seen by more than 24,000 people.)   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Steve Hudson

A look back at the life and accomplishments of Steve Hudson.

Hudson, who passed away in December, was a search and rescue pioneer, co-founder of Pigeon Mountain Industries, and a key figure in setting up Walker County’s 911 center and search/rescue caving team.   Tiny Facebook

He Shot Me Because He Loves Me

Matthew Webb, who shot his sorta-girlfriend in the leg in November, now faces seven charges related to hunting laws he violated during the shooting.

LPD says he was high at the time on meth.

(CatWalkChatt says he “shot his dear” – that’s cute.)   Tiny Facebook

Wednesday Gov. Deal delivered his “State of the State” speech to state legislators in Atlanta. He claimed economic success in the form of job creation, low taxes, and a highly trained workforce. Deal said his goals now are increased education funding, inmate rehabilitation, and more job growth.

Gov Deal State of the State Address 2014

Deal proposed spending an extra half-billion-dollars on education in the state next year. But looking at state finances, spending on education in Georgia is as high, or higher, than ever, as a percentage of state budget. The problem isn’t lack of funds so much as inefficiency and a broken system, which Deal hasn’t yet (and likely won’t) address.

Deal has also recently named a new person to serve as “Child Advocate” for the state, supervising children in state custody through DFCS, foster care, and group homes. The previous advocate quit after a multitude of kids in care (or who should have been in care) died.

Elsewhere under the Gold Dome, Georgia Senate is now producing a YouTube video each day summarizing what they did during the previous 24 hours.

And a new law proposed by state legislators would make attending cockfights a crime. Currently it’s only illegal to gamble during cockfighting, which is difficult to prove.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

South Chattanooga Street Pavement

A year ago LaFayette City Council approved a $6,000 study in advance of doing repairs and upgrades on South Chattanooga Street between 193 and Roper. 12 months later we’ve seen absolutely no progress in that area.

The city put rehabbing that street on its SPLOST list and SPLOST was renewed, so will we see paving in West LaFayette this summer? Next summer? Ever?   Tiny Facebook

A Chattooga County man has been accused of breaking into his ex-wife’s house to steal his own kids’ Christmas gifts, which he then gave to the children of his new girlfriend.

He was arrested last Friday.   Tiny Facebook

More trouble inside Georgia’s (lack of) Ethics Commission: a Commission attorney is placed on leave after showing up for work at the state capitol drunk.   Tiny Facebook

Roper Wellness Center

Roper recently opened a new on-site medical center for employees and their family members. The facility is operated by Redmond Hospital of Rome. Redmond has offices in Summerville and Trion but this is apparently their first expansion into Walker County.   Tiny Facebook

Glenn McDowell was released from Hays Prison last Saturday after a three-year sentence. He was met at the prison gate by a Chattooga deputy, who immediately arrested the 21-year-old again for fighting with a guard inside the prison last fall.   Tiny Facebook

IVC, which runs a vinyl flooring plant South of Dalton, announces another facility will open next door a year from now, adding 150+ jobs. The site is near Carbondale Rd, a reasonable commute for Walker County residents living in the Villanow area.   Tiny Facebook

Moon History Web Site

LU contributor/commenter/lurker David Moon has launched a Web project seeking to preserve historic photos and stories from Chattanooga and Northwest Georgia.

(Moon claimed he would officially retire from commentary on LU as of January 1st and he’s mostly done that, although he’s broken his rule a couple times since then.)   Tiny Facebook

Employees of Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice are 3x more likely to quit their state jobs than other GA employees.

An audit/survey shows workers blaming low pay, stress from inadequate staff, and infrequent promotions or raises based on relationships not merit.   Tiny Facebook

Wells Fargo bank has begun charging some customers a fee when they deposit funds into their account. So far the company says this will only apply to deposits sent to US accounts from overseas, but it could soon expand to every customer.

(As one person commented on LU Facebook, “it seems to me that Wells Fargo must have a strong desire to go out of business.”)   Tiny Facebook

Kids Station Building

Former home of Kids’ Station daycare center on Hwy. 151 (which suddenly closed before Christmas) could be purchased by Christ First Church. Christ First currently meets weekly at the Civic Center. They’re looking to raise $50k in a month to buy the building.   Tiny Facebook

LU occasionally spotlights local authors or artists and their works. Lonnie Henderson of Chattooga County has written a series of vampire novels. His Facebook page for the series is here.

Henderson’s titles include The Ethics of Vampire Hunting, The Dangers of Vampire Hunting, and Scarlett: The Alpha Vampire Compendium One. If you’re into that sort of thing..   Tiny Facebook

A new study shows increasing debt among US states threatening to end basic services for citizens.

Where does “fiscally sound” Georgia rank? 11th out of 50, with $115 BILLION in long-term obligations. That’s $11,612 per citizen.   Tiny Facebook

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