2014
07.07

LaFayette Swimming Pool

Hope you had a wonderful July 4th holiday. Now it’s back to business.

Finally a balanced article about the Lovelady lawsuit against LaFayette city leaders.

Mike Lovelady During HearingAs LU has reported before, Tavern owner Mike Lovelady tried to blackmail a member of the city council, threatening to release inappropriate photos of the man’s wife to the public if the city dared enforce its own rules against his business.

LPD enforced the law, so he followed through on the threat – putting news of the photos in local papers, and offering the pics to various cops and reporters. He also moved forward with a lawsuit against members of the council and police department; the suit is is now heading to federal court.

Based on the linked report, Mike was threatening release of the photos way back before he was defeated in his run for Mayor, and before the city took any action against him regarding illegal serving of alcohol.

Even if you feel city leaders have behaved vindictively, it seems clear he was planning to be vindictive and underhanded himself long before that started.

(Mr. Lovelady has now spent way more on his lawyers than the city cost him by suspending the Tavern pouring license for five days.)   Tiny Facebook

Hutcheson has successfully sold its half-stake in Battlefield Imaging for $5.2 million. A portion of the sale profits went to repay Walker County over $600k from a recent loan.

Hutcheson Aerial View

The troubled hospital may be out of assets to sell (or furniture to burn, as it were) now that Erlanger has filed paperwork forcing Hutcheson into foreclosure.

That could result in Hutcheson property backing Erlanger’s $20 million loan being sold like a foreclosed home early next month, but it’s likely intended to get other hospital debt holders (the counties, Regions Bank) pushing for a settlement. And it could also prevent HMC from selling more property to finance its debt.

Foreclosure wouldn’t necessarily mean the hospital would close, just change owners.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

LaFayette PD has finally identified and arrested a suspect in the Easter weekend burglary at Loughridge Equipment.

Dean Ridley

Dean Ray Ridley Jr., 23, is accused of breaking into the tractor business and stealing several hundred dollars, a guitar, tools, and a gun. He has so far been “uncooperative.”

Meanwhile, more fresh burglaries:

    WQCH Radio, 07/03/14: “LAFAYETTE POLICE REPORT SEVERAL CRIME CALLS FROM SATURDAY, THE 28th.
    “A HOLLIMAN STREET RESIDENT FOUND HIS WALLET, CASH AND A KAYAK MISSING FROM HIS UNLOCKED TRUCK, PARKED IN THE DRIVE. TOTAL VALUE OF THE ITEMS STOLEN IN THE ENTERING AUTO CASE, WAS $762.
    “ANOTHER THEFT-FROM-AUTO WAS REPORTED AT THE DOLLAR GENERAL ON SOUTH MAIN, SATURDAY NIGHT. SOMEONE ENTERED THE VICTIM’S UNLOCKED PICKUP TRUCK WHILE THEY SHOPPED, TAKING STEREO EQUIPMENT AND OTHER ITEMS VALUED AT $315.
    “AND A RESIDENT OF SKYLINE HEIGHTS REPORTED DAMAGE TO AN OUTSIDE AIR CONDITIONING UNIT, SATURDAY. POLICE SAY AT 17 SUNSET DRIVE, THE UNIT’S COVER HAD BEEN REMOVED, POSSIBLY AN ATTEMPT TO STEAL COPPER FROM THE COMPRESSOR. HOWEVER, THE PEOPLE RESPONSIBLE WERE APPARENTLY SCARED-AWAY AND NO FURTHER DAMAGE WAS DONE. POLICE HAVE NO SUSPECTS, BUT SAY THE CRIME WOULD BE CLASSIFIED AS A CRIMINAL TRESPASS.”

(Lock those doors, people.)   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.02
    LU will be on “light duty” through the remainder of this week. Next Daily Update will be on July 7; check Facebook for the latest breaking news.

Walker County hasn’t reached a final management agreement for Mountain Cove Farms; per this report, the amount paid per month could end up being greater than the $3,000 reported a few days earlier.

Mountain Cove Farms Barn

Here the county also admits losing at least a quarter-million dollars on the Farm so far THIS year even though Commissioner Heiskell and Not-Commissioner Ashburn claimed it was profitable on UCTV last winter.

Based on the linked article, the county’s 2012 financial report, and some rough numbers from last year, MCF has cost Walker County taxpayers at least a million dollars so far just to run, beyond the millions spent to buy it in 2008.   Tiny Facebook

Last week during the same county business meeting, Commissioner Heiskell renewed a contract with the state to fund Walker Transit.

Walker Transit With Client

A year earlier she dismissed the contract, briefly defunding transit until public outcry (started by LU and county employees who spoke to the media) changed her feeble mind.

2013′s 100% rate increase, from $2 to $4 per trip for elderly and disabled residents, remains unchanged.   Tiny Facebook

Georgia’s new gun laws began yesterday. One aspect of the law lets school districts make a local decision about arming teachers or school employees.

So far no school system in the state has embraced the concept. Administrators in at least one district down state feel teachers wouldn’t have enough discretion to decide when, or who, to shoot during an incident.

Walker County Schools HQ

Walker County has nineteen public K-12 schools, including Chickamauga. The combined campuses (Chickamauga’s three schools and Saddle Ridge’s two schools) leave sixteen individual campuses to protect.

We only have TWO SRO’s, based at the high schools, plus whatever Chickamauga does – and at least one of those SRO’s (Bruce Coker at Ridgeland) is almost never at the school. Seems like it would add to security, not harm it, if each of those schools or school campuses had one or two key employees like a principal or coach who had weapons training and access to a gun in case something happened.

Meanwhile in Missouri, a handful of school districts have paid $45,000 to send select teachers and school employees through weapons training classes. They’ve got a similar law and the districts there are taking advantage of it.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
06.30

Commissioner Heiskell made it official during Thursday’s county business meeting: Starting July 1st Walker County will pay $3,000 a month to have Mountain Cove Farms “professionally managed.”

Money Pit Farms

Another $36,000 a year to the Commissioner’s money-losing dream farm – in a year when she’s planning to raise property taxes. That amount would pay the salary of a library employee or fire fighter, or patch a few potholes on your road.

    “Initially the management agreement will require the county paying $3,000 per month to CUSA for their staff and expertise. But as operations become profitable, something which Heiskell said CUSA has said should be readily doable, the monthly fee will shift to a payment of about 3 percent of receipts.”

Bebe has insisted all along that the Farm makes money for the county. This confirms that it’s losing money now and has been for a while. WHEN it makes money, this new company will start taking 3% of the profits. But for now as it continues to LOSE money, they’ll charge the county $3,000 a month.

(That $3,000 a month would provide 750 free trips on Walker Transit to our elderly, disabled, or indigent residents..)

    WQCH Radio, 06/27/14: “CUSA, LLC, BASED IN KENNESAW, GEORGIA, WILL TAKE THE REINS ON JULY 1st. THEIR MANAGEMENT TEAM WILL RUN THE MANOR HOUSE, RESTAURANT, STORE AND OTHER FACILITIES AT THE COUNTY-OWNED FARM.
    “COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL SAID THE AGREEMENT IS ON A TRIAL, ‘MONTH TO MONTH BASIS’ – NOT A LONG-TERM AGREEMENT.
    “WALKER COUNTY WILL BE PAYING THE MANAGEMENT FIRM $3,000 PER MONTH, AND CUSA WILL HANDLE THE BUSINESS, MARKETING AND HUMAN RESOURCES AT MOUNTAIN COVE. EMPLOYEES WILL CONTINUE TO BE PAID BY THE COUNTY.”

Wonder what kind of made up jobs CUSA will find for Bebe’s family and friends who work out there now?   Tiny Facebook

Clara Edwards, accused of killing a foster child in her care, was released Friday on $75,000 bond. As a condition of her release, she’s forbidden from contacting anyone in foster care, elder care, or any children under 6 without supervision.

Clara Edwards in Court

Edwards’ own attorney got a gag order issued on everyone involved in the case, including others in the foster care system and law enforcement. So far almost everything publicly reported about the case has been gleaned from documents leaked from within DFCS.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

If you couldn’t (or wouldn’t) make it out to Freedom Festival Friday night, here’s a quick video of the city fireworks show.

(Saturday evening’s free public movie at Joe Stock Park, unlike the fireworks, was rained out and will be rescheduled.)   Tiny Facebook

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2014
06.27

2014 Freedom FestivalLaFayette Freedom Festival and the annual fireworks show will be held tonight at the main rec. department. Festival officially begins at 5, fireworks scheduled for 10:30 PM.

It’s a hot day but the forecast looks good, small chances of storms in the afternoon that decrease as the night goes on. It wouldn’t be a real Freedom Festival without a little rain, anyway.

As mentioned in February, LaFayette’s fireworks show this year is being held a full week before July 4th because it saves the city half of what the show normally costs – $5,000 vs. $10,000.

(Freedom Festival will also be your last chance to buy a raffle ticket to win a guitar or a trip to Nashville and support the LaFayette library.)

Tomorrow night the city will also present another outdoor movie – Despicable Me 2 – at 9 PM in Joe Stock Park.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Wednesday Chattanooga’s supposedly reputable newspaper published an inflammatory article about Mike Lovelady’s lawsuit against LaFayette and several city leaders. LU won’t share the link because of the inaccuracies in the report, which boils down to a one-sided hit put together by Lovelady or his lawyers.

Mike & Gary Lovelady

Lovelady accuses the city of a vendetta against him based on a relationship with one councilman’s wife and his “son” Gary, but fails (again) to address what the city actually said he did: storing hard liquor in the business and serving it to employees (some underage) in violation of city and state rules.

There WAS an inappropriate (non-physical) relationship between Gary Lovelady and the woman, which resulted in some inappropriate photos. (She wasn’t the only one, by far, he’s been involved with.)

As LU mentioned back in February, Lovelady tried to use the pictures as blackmail to get himself out of trouble. He told the police chief about those when he was being investigated, said he would get them in the local paper if they took his license away. The local paper wouldn’t touch that part, but now the Chattanooga paper has helped Mike complete his threat, making the issue public.

LaFayette has bent over backwards to accommodate the man and his businesses for three years, up to the point where he broke multiple laws. Now that he’s been called out for that behavior he’s digging up dirt, filing lawsuits, and throwing accusations around to defend himself against charges that he can’t dismiss head-on.   Tiny Facebook

    WQCH Radio, 06/25/14: “A DAUGHERTY STREET RESIDENT WAS ‘ROUGHED UP’ AS SHE TRIED TO BREAK-UP A LATE NIGHT FIGHT IN HER YARD. POLICE WERE CALLED JUST AFTER MIDNIGHT SUNDAY MORNING. WHEN THEY ARRIVED, THE THREE YOUNG MEN INVOLVED IN THE FIGHTING, HAD FLED. THE RESIDENT SAID THEY CHOKED HER AND SLUNG HER TO THE GROUND BEFORE RUNNING.

Cory Gage Lee

    “OFFICERS SPOTTED TWO MEN MATCHING THE DESCRIPTION ON MCLEMORE STREET. THEY REFUSED TO STOP – AND A FOOT CHASE ENSUED. OFFICERS TASED AND ARRESTED ONE SUSPECT, 19 YEAR OLD CORY GAGE LEE OF LAFAYETTE. HE WAS CHARGED WITH SIMPLE BATTERY, CRIMINAL TRESPASS, OBSTRUCTION AND UNDER-AGE CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL. POLICE ARE LOOKING FOR THE TWO OTHER SUSPECTS.”

An adult present during the fight says Mr. Lee assaulted a 15-year-old girl. Others say the whole thing started over drugs.   Tiny Facebook

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2014
06.24

Walker County property owners have recently been notified that their buildings and lands are being reappraised by county officials, to set the taxable value before property taxes rise this summer.

Davenport Barns

Hopefully tax assessors will notice the Davenports, one of Walker County’s wealthiest families (that control more private land than anyone else) have a barn that somehow hasn’t been included on their tax bill in the past.

County records show only one building on this property, but anyone with eyes can see there are obviously at least two…

The Davenports have been generous campaign supporters of Commissioner Heiskell, and the county has been building a project FOR the Davenports now for over a year, across the street from the barns. (Photo below shows a county work truck parked nearby.)

Davenport Barns With County Truck

Tax Commissioner Carolyn Walker and Road Commissioner Bebe Heiskell both know that taxes not paid by one property owner become taxes that have to be paid by others. Certainly neither of them would intentionally screw the rest of us to benefit their friends on the mountain.

Nobody would dare suggest this is an intentional benefit for the Davenports, but simply an oversight. LU shares the photo and information here so county officials will know of this mistake and can rush to correct it before tax records are set in stone for the year.

You’re welcome!   Tiny Facebook

150 years ago last night and today, LaFayette was the prize in a heated battle between Union and Confederate forces. Union soldiers headquartered inside the old downtown courthouse were attacked on June 23rd by a band of of Confederates on their way to blow up bridges heading into Tennessee.

US troops tore down a wooden school building and used the material to build barricades, holding off rebel fighters until reenforcements arrived from Rock Spring early on June 24th. Union forces prevailed and LaFayette was not returned to the Confederates.

Battle of LaFayette Historical Marker

LaFayette Presbyterian Church, built in 1848 and still standing, served as a hospital for soldiers wounded in the conflict. Total losses were 28 killed and 60 wounded. Many of those who died fighting for LaFayette are still buried in the city cemetery; 15 Confederates killed here have never been identified.

The school building torn down was the Female Academy built in 1849 between the Marsh House and Chattooga Academy building. At that time Chattooga Academy was the boys’ school; it and the Female Academy were then the only equivalent of a modern (private) high school for several counties.

(Chattooga Academy [or John B. Gordon Hall], as we all know, already had a role in the Civil War about six months earlier when General Bragg used it as his headquarters during the Battle of Chickamauga.)

The Female Academy was later rebuilt and served, along with Chattooga Academy, as the original LaFayette High School until 1919 when the school moved to Cherokee Street.

An event commemorating the 150th anniversary was held over the weekend.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Two suspects in last week’s Trion kidnapping case have been arrested.

Trion Kidnapping Suspects

The men, identified as Cedric and Samuel Johnson, were living in an apartment adjacent to the kidnapping site, but aren’t from the area. Trion PD has recovered weapons and clothing detailed by the victim.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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