2016
11.03

LaFayette parents survived another Scare on the Square Monday night.

How was your Halloween?

Now comes the REAL scare: Election Day.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Walker County had another huge week, and a monster weekend, of early voting.

ELECTION 2016

Walker County Elections Office reported 1,482 early voters at the Courthouse last Monday-Friday. Saturday early voting opened in five locations around the county, and netted another 1,498 ballots cast. That brings the total as-of Saturday, across eleven days of early voting, to 3,023.

By comparison, during the heated 2012 election Walker County had approximately 10,000 early votes, and 22,000 votes overall. With early voting continuing in five locations this week, through Friday, we are on track or ahead of voter turnout from four years ago.

For the remainder of this week, through Friday, registered voters in Walker County (regardless of their home precinct) can early vote in these locations, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM:

The Courthouse in LaFayette.
GNTC in Rock Spring.
Chickamauga Civic Center in Chickamauga.
Rossville Civic Center in Rossville.
Lookout Mountain City Hall.

Election day is next Tuesday.
Voters will have to cast a ballot that day in their own designated precinct.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Commissioner Heiskell is in trouble.

For the upcoming election, she took $20,000 in donations over the state’s legal limit from fourteen businesses and individuals.

Puffy BebeBebe will be investigated, but only after the vote. If she’s found to have broken the law (which she clearly did), she’ll be asked to refund the money AND probably be fined. But it won’t impact the election directly.

Perry Lamb says she should refund all the money now, and suggests the companies that were involved should be banned from doing business with the county. Candidate Whitfield says he’s outraged at her “disrespect,” but won’t say what punishment he’d like to see.

That COULD be because Whitfield’s own company engaged in the same behavior for Heiskell during the 2012 election.

Everything Bebe’s done in the last four years might have been stopped if Shannon Whitfield hadn’t supported her and reported her activities then to the state. Instead, he helped her stay in office, then she sent him millions of dollars in county business. (He won’t put THAT in his slideshow.)

The man is covered in the same dirt Bebe’s covered in, so why does anyone expect him to do any better if he’s elected next week?   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

With what seems like an unending series of wildfires in the area during the last week, it’s no wonder the air has smelled of smoke on and off for days.

Fire in Rocky Face As Seen from Rock Spring

This fire on Rocky Face Ridge in Whitfield County [as seen from Rock Spring] started burning last Thursday and was finally contained yesterday.

Tuesday fire crews in Chattooga County battled blazes in Trion near the Narrows and a woods fire in Menlo. A small blaze was reported near Wood Station Elementary on the Walker/Catoosa line.

Yesterday around noon another fire started in Chickamauga Battlefield, off Lytle Road. GA Forestry, Park Service, Walker, Catoosa, and prison fire crews all responded to the blaze which grew to about ten acres before being contained.

After that fire crews were dispatched to a blaze near Blue Hole.

In these dry conditions, the state forest service is responding to 8-14 fires every single day, and many burn for longer than a single day.

The only solution is rain, and lots of it. Until we get that, don’t burn anything outdoors and be careful with your cigarettes or anything else potentially producing spark or flame.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2016
11.02

Bebe Heiskell & Shannon Whitfield

Months after being called out on this blog for breaking state ethics laws, Commissioner Bebe Heiskell has finally been reported for that behavior by the Walker County Republican Party and her “leading” opponent, Shannon Whitfield.

That complaint and actions leading up to it have launched a public war, at least on social media, between Heiskell and Whitfield over whose ethical problems are the worst – with both candidates rightfully accusing the other of engaging in bad behaviors they’re BOTH guilty of participating in or tolerating until recently.

Bottom line: Pot meet kettle, both figuratively “black” – both ethically challenged, and neither worthy of voter support.

Bebe Heiskell June 2016 Campaign Report - Audia Donation / $3,000

As revealed in June’s campaign finance report, Bebe took more money in May from Audia than allowed by law – $400 over the state’s $2,600 limit. LU called Heiskell out in a post here and encouraged a complaint be filed against her for the violation.

She insisted she’d done nothing wrong, and no formal ethics report was filed at the time by her opponents or anyone else involved in the election.

Heiskell’s behavior continued. By the end of September, her campaign had collected not $400 over the limit but fifty times that much – nearly twenty THOUSAND dollars beyond the state’s donation cap, from fourteen different donors. Those donors include major county vendors and business partners like Audia, Findlay Tall Timbers, Talley Construction, and Flegal Insurance.

A Chattanooga Times Free Press report detailing that abuse finally prompted a response from Heiskell’s opposition. On October 17 Walker County Republican Party leaders Dean Kelley and Mike Cameron, both involved in the Whitfield campaign, filed a formal complaint about Heiskell with the state ethics committee.

Along with the complaint from party leaders, Shannon Whitfield commented on social media that Heiskell was displaying “disrespect” for state law.

Bebe at the Chamber / Dan Henry Times Free Press

This is hardly the first time Heiskell has skirted the law; LU has posted a steady list of her ethical problems for the last seven years, and many people on Team Whitfield today (including Mike Cameron and one-time write-in opponent Ales Campbell) were calling her out for her corruption during the 2012 campaign.

But Mr. Whitfield himself never publicly disagreed with Heiskell or objected to her behavior until a year ago – and in fact his family business, the company where he serves as Chief Financial Officer, was regularly cutting campaign checks for Heiskell until 2014.

Even worse, donations to Heiskell from Whitfield Oil during the 2012 election cycle went over the state’s legal cap. Shannon Whitfield broke the same laws then, for Heiskell’s benefit, that his backers are reporting Bebe for breaking this year.

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2016
10.28

Another trailer fire in the area has claimed lives – this time an entire family of six.

Airport Road Trailer Fire - October 23rd

Parents Brad and DJ Jones, their young children Clair, Lola, and Olivia, and cousin Jada Kendrick all died in the flames when the Airport Road, Trion, singlewide they called home caught fire around 10:30 last Sunday night.

Fire investigators say the blaze was likely started by an improperly installed wood heater; They suspect the stovepipe set a wood panel wall on fire inside the trailer only hours after the stove was purchased and set up.

The adults are said to have died attempting to rescue the children.

Fire Victims - Jones Family

Funeral services for the entire family will be held this Saturday at Ridgeway Baptist. (Obituaries here for Brad and DJ; Clair, Lola, and Olivia; Jenna.)

There are some GoFundMe donation links floating around for this family, some are legitimate but some are unfortunately not.

If you want to help, we suggest you make a donation in their name to Regions Bank or United Community Bank, because they won’t take a cut of what’s donated and you can be sure the survivors will be helped with expenses when you give that way.

If nothing else comes from this tragedy, it can at least serve as a tragic reminder of the importance of checking heater safety and fire detectors in your home. Prayers and deepest sympathies for the Jones’ surviving family and friends.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Chevron Station Gambling Raid / Tyler Bishop - NWGA Scanner

This Wednesday, law enforcement finally took action against long-rumored and often-reported illegal gambling activity at the Indian-owned Chevron station on North Main at Hendrix Street, across from CVS.

(What, you thought they made money selling GAS in that location?)

LPD, the Drug Task Force, and GBI all descended on the store in a gambling raid after an undercover officer was given illegal cash payments for winning with a video poker machine. (machines of that type are legal IF licensed by the state AND if they only give prizes, not cash.)

The owners and/or employees face potential felony charges for what’s allegedly been going on inside the store. The Chevron station and other assets involved in the crime could also be taken by law enforcement under asset forfeiture laws, even if the charges are never proven.   Tiny Facebook

During a recent meeting, Walker’s three candidates for commissioner were asked how they would improve Rossville after taking office.

They all had suggestions; surprisingly none of them suggested burning it down and starting over.

Walker Commissioner Candidates in Rossville / Heidi Lamb

Heiskell, Lamb, and Whitfield all appeared together again for a televised debate on UCTV last Tuesday night. Video from that hour long session will be shared soon as we have it available.

The election is a week from next Tuesday; Saturday early voting will be tomorrow.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Is real transparency in local government possible?

Perry Lamb Installing Sign

Not just compliance with the law, but transparency that benefits the people and truly makes information available by the easiest means.

    Perry Lamb Facebook, 10/16/16: “During this race for the next Commissioner of Walker County it has been interesting to hear how, at times, my opponents have used the word “transparency”. I, for one, fully believing in the Constitution, feel that I should not only speak of it, but give specifics. I believe the people of this county should have the ability and resources available to quickly and easily locate financial information regarding how their tax money is spent. In today’s modern times, one of the easiest things that I intend to implement will be public access to this financial information without having to go through an open records request and pay for information that should be openly available to them. Walker County currently has a website that can be improved upon to give access to this type and other information without much difficulty.
    “One of things that I will expect from each county department will be a detailed monthly report of expenditures; this will include the Commissioner’s office. I feel that there has been a lack of oversight in spending, which has caused the people of this county to distrust local government. An annual line item budget will also be published on this public platform. The people should have the capability to review this information, prior to the Commissioner approving said budget and be able to question any odd or inappropriate expense”

We feel Lamb is sincere in this, and will hold him to this commitment once he’s elected – if you do your part and give him your vote.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
10.23

Keepin’ it classy, downtown LaFayette.

111 Downtown Square / Queen City Bistro Boarded Up

Since Queen City Bistro closed, the 111 building on LaFayette’s square has been boarded up in the tackiest possible way.

It’s unclear if the decision to nail plywood over the historic storefront was made by the owners of now-defunct Queen City Bistro or the property owner/landlord Mike Lovelady.

It’s being suggested that Lovelady, true to his past behavior as a letch and political wannabe, did this to intentionally stick a thumb in the city’s eye in the most public way.

If the boards remain up for long the property could come afoul of city building codes/zoning laws, which might well lead to another court battle between the Lovelady clan and city leaders they so despise.   Tiny Facebook

Per the elections office, 1,541 early vote ballots were cast this week – a new record for Walker County.

That’s about 25% of ALL votes cast for the primary election back in May.

If you’re registered to vote you can cast an early ballot at the courthouse. You can check your registration status here.   Tiny Facebook

Last Monday LaFayette City Council finally set a paving contract for South Chattanooga Street.

LaFayette will pay Talley Construction $289,000 from the last SPLOST to resurface the road between Roper and West Main. The company has until November 30th to finish but is expected to have it done well before that deadline.

(Imagine how much more road work LaFayette could have gotten done if the city was getting more than $2.9 million (8.8%) of the $33 million SPLOST taxes will take in. Most of it goes to waste at the top as directed by the county…)   Tiny Facebook

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2016
10.19

Early voting began Monday in Georgia.

The elections office reports 286 ballots cast on the first day, an unusually high number of votes.

ELECTION 2016

Walker County voters are most interested in the heated races for US President and (of course) Walker Commissioner.

On the first day of early voting, independent Commissioner candidate Perry Lamb picked up an endorsement. The Libertarian Party of Northwest Georgia, which we didn’t previously know was a thing, says Lamb (despite his not being a member of their party) is the closest match of the three candidates for their small-government ideals.

A conclusion LU agrees with fully.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Former Hutcheson employees say they’ve been contacted by investigators from the US Department of Labor checking into the fraudulent way employee insurance was handled at the now-defunct hospital.

What remains of Hutcheson, Inc. (on paper) owes nearly $3 million to employees for health claims, but has only $650,000 to repay their medical bills. The hospital took employees’ insurance premiums out of their paychecks almost until the end, yet failed to actually cover their insurance during the last year it was open.

Hutcheson Employee Creditor Letter / No Insurance

The $2.8 million Hutcheson owes for medical claims pales compared to the $8.7 Walker County owes back to Erlanger for bailing Hutcheson out.

That debt, however, won’t be paid while Bebe Heiskell is in office. The debt and legal bills continue to pile up as she has the county throw more money down a hole in another legal appeal.

Heiskell’s challengers were asked if they would continue to give Hutcheson board members legal cover if they’re sued by Erlanger for refusing to pay up; Perry Lamb told a reporter he wouldn’t waste county money on them, while Shannon Whitfield says he’s not sure what he’d do after taking office – the same positions they both previously took on appealing the pointless and expensive Hutcheson/Erlanger case.   Tiny Facebook

Judge Don Thompson

Gov. Deal has decided who will fill retired judge Bo Wood’s slot: Summerville lawyer Don Thompson.

Thompson will join Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit immediately, since Wood retired several weeks ago.

    WQCH Radio, 10/17/16: “GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL HAS APPOINTED THE NEW JUDGE FOR SUPERIOR COURT OF THE LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN CIRCUIT. DON THOMPSON WILL FILL THE VACANCY LEFT BY THE RETIREMENT OF JUDGE JON BO WOOD. THE APPOINTMENT WILL TAKE EFFECT UPON SWEARING IN.
    “THOMPSON IS A PARTNER IN BRUCE & THOMPSON, LLC IN SUMMERVILLE. HE EARNED A BACHELOR’S DEGREE FROM BERRY AND A LAW DEGREE FROM CUMBERLAND SCHOOL OF LAW AT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY. HE AND HIS WIFE ERICA HAVE ONE CHILD AND THEY RESIDE IN SUMMERVILLE.”

Meanwhile, fighting continues over which of the circuit’s three (soon to be four) judges will be considered chief. That conflict is now news in Atlanta.   Tiny Facebook

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