2016
06.09

Wednesday afternoon a man visiting the area died in a tragic crash on Corinth Rd.

Corinth Rd Wreck - June 8 2016 / Tyler Bishop

According to State Patrol investigators, a yet-unidentified 42-year-old man “new to the area” driving an older Jeep rolled it over after driving onto the shoulder and overcorrecting. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.

Accident occurred about 4 PM, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

[Photo courtesy Tyler Bishop.]   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

GE Appliances Sign After Haier Buyout / WDRB

Haier executives from China visited Kentucky on Monday to make official the Asian manufacturer’s buyout of GE Appliances.

Final sale price for the now-former General Electric division, which includes subsidiary Roper Corp in LaFayette, was $5.6 billion – $200 million more than initially proposed. Signage and Web sites have already been changed to reflect the company’s new ownership.

GE Appliances Web Site After Buyout

Company leaders and union officials both say no layoffs are expected, and most of the conglomerate’s 6,000+ US workers won’t notice any big changes – at least not in the immediate future.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Walker County’s countersuit against Erlanger in the Hutcheson case has been dismissed by a federal judge.

Hutcheson Attorney Stuart James

Judge Harold Murphy said, in part, the claim contained “few, if any, factual allegations” and suggested the high-price lawyer who prepared the claim – Stuart James – could be held personally responsible for some costs of the ridiculous case.

He also denied a request to add Dade, Catoosa, or the Hospital Authority into a lawsuit filed by Erlanger against Walker – the only party in the case continually refusing to cooperate.

In another area of the continuing case, Walker County last week offered Erlanger $1.3 million (which we don’t have) to repay the county’s $8.7 million Hutcheson debt.

Erlanger of course rejected the lowball offer.

Hutcheson Medical Center SignThe insultingly low settlement suggestion almost seems like it was meant to be rejected so the endless legal fight could continue. Not surprising, since the county’s attorney is getting a kickback from James James & Joyner – Stuart James’ lawfirm, recipient of legal fees associated with the Hutcheson battle.

Every day this case continues makes Walker County’s debts, for a hospital company that no longer exists, even bigger – not to mention the increasing pile of legal bills.

The Hospital Authority is owned by Dade, Walker, and Catoosa – but if you had any doubt which county (and which county Commissioner) pulls the strings and calls the shots, here’s a reminder:

The Authority was going to meet this week and discuss settlement options, but since Walker is opposed to settling, the meeting didn’t happen because the board suddenly got worried about the legality of e-mail communications.

In related Hutcheson news, the defunct company now owes over $3.75 million in unpaid employee medical bills due to the insurance plan it collected payments for and then never covered [PDF link].

THAT debt isn’t backed by the counties, and most of it will never be paid.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2016
06.06

On May 24th, Walker County voters overwhelmingly approved, with 75% support, a ballot question about changing county government into a multi-commissioner board.

John Deffenbaugh & Steve Tarvin

But as feared, strong support for changing the county’s form of governance means little to the people who can actually make that change happen: local legislators Jeff Mullis, Steve Tarvin, and John Deffenbaugh.

Last week they confirmed to the Messenger they might not do anything in response to the non-binding vote in support of changing the county’s government, using the excuse of low voter turnout and lack of demand from the commissioner’s office.

    “So far [Rep. John] Deffenbaugh, along with state Rep. Steve Tarvin and state Sen. Jeff Mullis, both of Chickamauga, aren’t convinced — even after a recent straw poll showed 3-1 support for a board of commissioners.
    “…for the three lawmakers, who have the final say on whether to hold a binding vote on the issue, poll results aren’t enough.”

(Mullis specifically mentioned low voter turnout as a reason not to embrace the vote. However during that same election, more Walker County citizens voted to change the county’s form of government than voted to keep Jeff Mullis in his job. We want a board of commissioners more than we want him – and he needs to keep that in mind.)

Jeff Mullis 2016 Speaking / Dan Henry Times Free Press

The three local delegates also openly admit they personally prefer the current system, which has destroyed Walker County.

Deffenbaugh confirmed what Senator Mullis has said before: they won’t make a change or even put it on the ballot in a legally binding way until the elected commissioner herself/himself demands it, regardless of how the majority of their constituents feel.

    “‘The single commissioner would have to make a request to myself and Steve Tarvin, and then it would go to Jeff as far as local legislation goes,’ Deffenbaugh said.”

Unfortunately, the leading candidate to be the next sole commissioner has already gone on record saying he feels there’s no advantage between the two systems, and he’ll leave it up to the legislators to make the change – something they say here they won’t do.

The Times Free Press couldn’t get comments from the legislators, but did speak with candidate Shannon Whitfield and incumbent Commissioner Heiskell about the vote:

    Times Free Press, 05/29/16: “If legislators do choose to follow through on the move starting next year, that would mean the next sole commissioner could be the last, something incumbent Bebe Heiskell and Republican challenger Shannon Whitfield say they are completely fine with.”

They both have the same position on it, but it’s NOT the position given here. Bebe has always said she’s fine with a change while working to block change, and Whitfield’s indicating he’ll be on the same track. (And they can both be “fine” with it IF legislators take a move, which they will not unless the commissioner pushes it – something neither of them will do.) Both are all for the “will of the people” while personally opposing the change and working behind the scenes to block or delay that very change.

Shannon Whitfield Facebook on Sole Commissioner

Fortunately, the Commissioner race isn’t over. Voters have a third option besides board opponents Whitfield and Heiskell.

Perry Lamb’s campaign to run for Commissioner needs only a few hundred more signatures – about 400 more – to qualify him as as an independent candidate for November. If he reaches that goal by the end of July, his name on the ballot will give the county another choice, one that isn’t part of the Chickamauga clique fighting to preserve the broken status quo.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Michael James Gobert, who shot and killed JJ Montgomery last October, has been found guilty of murder.

Michael GobertGobert opened fire at Montgomery and two friends as they were leaving his daughter’s home off Straight Gut Road last fall.

Gobert’s lawyer said he felt threatened by the men who had just gotten into a fight with his adult daughter after an orgy came up short.

A jury rejected the self defense argument in favor of the prosecution’s position: Montgomery was no risk to him since he and his friends were inside a vehicle trying to flee. He opened fire on men who were no risk to himself or anyone else, and in the dark shot one of them in the head.

The jury decided Gobert’s actions constitute felony murder – a conviction that will likely put the 52-year-old in jail for at least thirty years.   Tiny Facebook

Haier is expected to finalize its $5.4 billion buyout of GE Appliances today.

Roper-Haier Combined?

Once the deal closes, the biggest employer in Walker County – Roper – will be a fully-owned subsidiary of a Chinese company, itself owned in part by the government of China.   Tiny Facebook

Even with an election five months out, Commissioner Heiskell’s spending priorities are out of whack with the needs of her constituents.

Bebe Facebook - Walker Transit Schedule Change

Bebe has cut back Walker Transit service for the county’s poor, disabled, and elderly by limiting non-medical trips (shopping, socialization, and going to work) to two days a week.

Did she cut anything else out before making this decision?

Rode the bus and voted for her?Heiskell tried to shut down Transit completely in 2013 when she refused to renew a contract with the state to fund it. LU found out, posted it here, and readers blew up her phone.

She backtracked then, but fired the Transit director and put in place some temporary restrictions like the ones just announced again.

The county budget was too tight to offer this service in 2013, but she continued to spend hundreds of thousands on her (now closed) restaurant, walking trails to nowhere, a new tax office, etc.

This year she’s gotten a pay raise herself, but she can’t keep letting old folks pay $4 for a one-way trip to the Senior Center or library three days a week.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
05.27

LU will be on break the entire week of Memorial Day.
The next Update will be on Monday June 6th.

Wednesday night a domestic argument on Cordell Ave. turned into a shooting and a police standoff.

Cordell Ave Shooting May 25 2016

According to officers, Roxanne P. Hurley got into an argument with a man in her home off Corinth Rd. and shot him in the leg. She let emergency crews get him out of the trailer and take him to a hospital, but when officers came for her she locked herself inside the home with guns and wouldn’t come out.

Deputies blocked off Cordell Ave. and attempted to talk her out of the house. The SWAT Team was called, and six hours later, after firing teargas through the windows, officers went inside and got her out. The 57-year-old was, fortunately and surprisingly, not seriously injured.

She now faces every charge they can come up with.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Defeated commissioner candidate Mike Peardon has signed the petition to get Perry Lamb’s name on this November’s ballot.

Peardon Signature on Perry Lamb Petition

Peardon says he’s throwing his support behind Lamb’s campaign, and encourages his own supporters to do the same.

Perry Lamb needs 1,640 signatures from registered voters by early July to qualify for the commissioner race as an independent. He has well over 1,000 signatures collected and has added more daily for weeks.

Even if you plan to vote for Whitfield, you should consider giving Lamb some support with a signature. Lamb on the ballot means we have another candidate to face Bebe in case something happens to Whitfield.

And if you happen to change your mind about Whitfield before November, it won’t be bad to have another option to pick from other than Bebe..

Perry Lamb Signature Drive / Down Home Days

Lamb will be at the Rossville library tonight 6-8, at the Fort O. VFW car show on Saturday beginning at 9 AM, and at the Memorial Day BBQ in Hinkle on Monday from 11 to 3.

He’s also going to be at Freedom Festival in LaFayette on July 4th.

You can meet him and sign the qualification petition at any of those events. If it’s more convenient for you, go sign his petition at Talespinners Outdoors, Stu’s Barbershop, or QTM Jeep Parts in Chickamauga.   Tiny Facebook

On May 20th, Randy “Babo” Barfield Jr. slipped away from a county prisoner work crew in Rock Spring and disappeared.

Randy Barfield

Five days later the Sheriff’s Office notified the public and media of their “trusty” prisoner’s escape, and asked for help in finding him – offering a generous $200 reward.
(Were they waiting on him to come back?)

Barfield was arrested back in March for burglary and trespassing.

If you know him, see if he’ll outbid the Sheriff and give you more than $200 to NOT tell them where he is.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
05.24

ELECTION 2016

Today is election day. Polls are open from 7 AM to 7 PM.

Everything is on the Republican ballot, so you’ll want to ask for that one no matter where your alliances lay. The contested races are Commissioner, Georgia Senate, and School Board Post 5. A question about allowing a vote in the future for sole commissioner is also on the ballot.

On election day you have to vote in your own precinct – find out where that is here.

(Check this page after 8 PM for updates and election results.)

UPDATE 1:

Voter turnout today before lunch time was on the light side. About 6% of active registered voters cast their ballots early or absentee.

UPDATE 2:

Tonight’s election results:
Commissioner: Whitfield 4,456 (75.16%), Peardon 1,473
School Board 5: Hunter 2,800 (58.68%), Eady 1,972
Senate District 53: Mullis 9,580 (67%), Thomas 4,811
Sole Commissioner Question (R): YES 4,503 (75.26%), NO 1,480
Sole Commissioner Question (D): YES 355 (80.14%), NO 88

Four thousand, eight hundred and fifty eight Walker County voters have spoken up and said they want to vote on the matter of Sole Commissioner, in a way that counts.

Hopefully that’s enough “grassroots support” for Senator Mullis to get off his backside and do something, soon.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Signs of change have popped up all over Walker in the last few weeks.

Sole Commissioner Change / Vote Yes Sign

Go today and vote YES on the ballot measure to put Sole Commissioner on a future ballot. Walker County is one of only eight counties in the country that has retained the antiquated sole commissioner form of government. We’ll never move ahead until the county government is run with accountability and transparency – and that’ll never happen without more than one person in charge.

(If the measure doesn’t pass, forget ever having another shot at it in your lifetime. It’s taken a generation to get THIS far.)   Tiny Facebook

Unfortunately the Sole Commissioner issue on the ballot is a non-binding question, which means it can easily be ignored or put off by the county’s legislative delegation, consisting of Steve Tarvin, John Deffenbaugh, and Jeff Mullis.

Even approved by voters today, which seems likely, the question won’t change anything unless Tarvin submits legislation to let us vote on it AGAIN in a way that legally matters. His proposal would have to be approved by Tarvin and Mullis to become official.

Jeff Mullis 2016 Speaking / Dan Henry Times Free Press

What’s Jeff Mullis say about the measure if it’s approved?

    WQCH Radio, 05/21/16: “BOTH THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC BALLOTS IN NEXT TUESDAY’S PRIMARIES WILL HAVE A ‘YES OR NO’ STRAW-POLL QUESTION ON WHETHER THE VOTER FAVORS A CHANGE TO A MULTI-MEMBER BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, IN PLACE OF WALKER COUNTY’S SOLE COMMISSIONER FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
    “WQCH NEWS ASKED STATE SENATOR JEFF MULLIS HOW HE WOULD REACT, IF TUESDAY’S VOTE FAVORS A MULTI-COMMISSIONER GOVERNMENT HERE.
    “MULLIS SAID FIRST, HE AND REPRESENTATIVES JOHN DEFFENBAUGH AND STEVE TARVIN WOULD HAVE TO MEET AND COME TO A CONSENSUS ON THE ACTION TO TAKE.
    “MULLIS SAID THAT COULD RESULT IN:
    * NO ACTION…
    * IN A CALL FOR AN OFFICIAL PETITION DRIVE…
    * OR IN A SPECIAL VOTE ON THE ISSUE. IF THE THREE AGREE ON A VOTE, MULLIS SAID THAT WOULD NOT HAPPEN BEFORE THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION IN 2018.
    “MULLIS SAID REPRESENTATIVES TARVIN AND DEFFENBAUGH MIGHT HAVE OTHER IDEAS, AS WELL.
    “‘IN ORDER FOR ME TO ACT ON THE STRAW POLL, I WOULD WANT TO SEE AN OVERWHELMING, GRASS-ROOTS DEMAND, WHICH I HAVEN’T SEEN YET’, MULLIS SAID. ‘NO ONE HAS COME TO MY OFFICE AND ASKED ME TO SUPPORT A MULTI-COMMISSIONER GOVERNMENT FOR WALKER COUNTY,’ HE CONCLUDED.”

In other words, Tuesday doesn’t mean anything to him. Just like a petition signed by 2,045 taxpayers meant nothing to him, and the calls made to his home afterwards meant nothing to him.

Why does anybody have confidence in this fat fool doing what the voters want?

The first thing the next commissioner should do when they take office on January 1 is call Mullis, and Tarvin, and Deffenbaugh, and tell them to make this happen. Put it on a special ballot in 2017 and get us a slate of commissioners on a ballot in 2018. And hold them accountable if they don’t do it.

Voters can make THAT happen by passing the initiative in an overwhelming way, 70%+ of the vote, and by choosing a commissioner candidate who supports changing to a board – Mike Peardon.   Tiny Facebook

2016 ELECTION Q&A: WHITFIELD V. PEARDON

Where DO Commissioner candidates Mike Peardon and Shannon Whitfield stand on matters of transparency, sole commissioner government, and how to fix the county’s debt?

Before you vote, get informed with the candidate Q&A.   Tiny Facebook

Also before you vote, find out where school board candidates Casey Eady and Phyllis Hunter stand on local school issues that matter.

2016 ELECTION Q&A: HUNTER V EADY

How do they feel about Standards Based Grading, federal control over local schools, special education, libraries, Superintendent Raines, and the future of old LHS?

Get the answers (sort of) in this pre-election Q&A for school board.   Tiny Facebook

LU also sent Q&A questions to both candidates for Senate District 53, Lanny Thomas and Jeff Mullis. Neither one responded to the messages. (Thomas says he isn’t using the e-mail it was sent to anymore. Mullis has no excuse.)

April 30 GOP Debate - Lanny Thomas & Jeff Mullis

A similar interview with AllOnGeorgia Chattooga County DID get answers – but only from Thomas.

All you really need to know about Jeff Mullis before voting is the way he’s handled the petition about sole commissioner and his comments shared above about the vote on that topic not meaning anything. A longstanding politician who ignores his constituents does not deserve their votes, regardless of the opponent.   Tiny Facebook

For today’s links and any breaking news, follow the Underground on Facebook or Twitter.

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2016
05.23

On Tuesday, Walker County voters will choose between Mike Peardon and Shannon Whitfield as the Republican Party candidate to take on incumbent commissioner Bebe Heiskell in November.

Who are the candidates, and where do they stand on local issues that matter?

2016 ELECTION Q&A: WHITFIELD V. PEARDON

Both candidates for the Republican commissioner nomination were e-mailed these questions at 2:20 PM on April 30th. They were asked to respond by noon on May 4th. Mr. Peardon did not initially receive his e-mail and was sent the questions again on May 3rd.

Peardon responded before the deadline. Mr. Whitfield did not respond by the deadline, and two weeks-plus after the deadline has still not responded to the message – although he did confirm on Facebook (before the deadline) that he received it.

Since Mr. Whitfield elected to skip this opportunity to directly communicate his ideas to the people, his questions will be answered (where possible) using statements he’s made in other venues. LU research answers and commentary are in italics.

Q&A Icon / LULaFayette Underground:
What is your full name, age, and home address?

Q&A Icon / Mike PeardonPeardon:
michael wayne peardon ,46 ,256 Tammy lne. lafayette

Q&A Icon / Shannon WhitfieldWhitfield:
[No response]

Whitfield is also 46. He lives on Dana Lane in Chickamauga.

Q&A Icon / LULaFayette Underground:
How can voters contact you or stay in touch with your campaign? (Please include info like e-mail, phone, Web site, social media, etc)

Q&A Icon / Mike PeardonPeardon:
facebook, walkerstrong.net,peardonmike@gmail.com,423 595 1400

Q&A Icon / Shannon WhitfieldWhitfield:
[No response]

Q&A Icon / LULaFayette Underground:
How long have you lived in the area, and have you lived anywhere else? If you’ve lived elsewhere, how does Walker County compare to those places?

Q&A Icon / Mike PeardonPeardon:
I have lived aprox. 34 years in Walker County.
I did live in catoosa county a few years,Walker County has a style totally different ,and offers subdivision living our farm living,There are many more places of solace to be found in Walker County than Catoosa County.

Q&A Icon / Shannon WhitfieldWhitfield:
[No response]

Q&A Icon / LULaFayette Underground:
Starting as early as you want, what kind of education do you have?

Q&A Icon / Mike PeardonPeardon:
I attended Pondsprings elementary,then Chattanooga Valley High School.I was trained as a Walker County volunteer firefighter,basic firefighting,first aid etc.I took and past the ASVAB military test,then entered the military training program where i recieved,hand to hand combat,m16 ,hand grenade,claymore mine,first aid,compass,field training,and HET training.Chattanooga state trained me to get my electrical license and the other 3 business license, i was able to pass the State test, after studying literature.

Q&A Icon / Shannon WhitfieldWhitfield:
[No response]

Shannon Whitfield Education

Mr. Whitfield graduated from Gordon Lee in 1988. He has admitted he did not attend college or tech school (which means he has the least formal education of the four announced commissioner candidates, including Bebe Heiskell) but says he has “over 30 years of ‘real world’ business experience” running his father’s company, Whitfield Oil.

Q&A Icon / LULaFayette Underground:
What jobs and/or previous elected positions have you held?

Q&A Icon / Mike PeardonPeardon:
I have never ran for office,i started out working in mills around the area and cutting yards on the side..At age 22 i was supervising in the grey cloth dept.at Durham knitting in Lafayette.After that job i worked at loomis armored first shift, and kenco second shift.I left my first shift job and put an add in the paper to do handy man work.Some may remember my add as (Christian man ready to work for you).As i pursued my career in construction,i attended Chattanooga State to receive my electrical license started wiring houses.As i started making more money,i chose to buy a property occasionally to fix up and rent.I studied and returned back to the state board and received my fieldline and sewer,soil and erosion and builders license,to diversify myself and save cost on rental property investments as they came along.I have been self employed for the last 20 years and own and manage 16 homes in Walker County and continue to keep my license current to maintain my homes,and do an occasional side job at times

Whitfield Chickamauga Council CampaignQ&A Icon / Shannon WhitfieldWhitfield:
[No response]

Whitfield’s campaign bio lists only one paid job: working for the family business. He has served in leadership of many civic organizations, including the board of Cherokee Regional Library, Walker Chamber of Commerce, Oakwood Christian Academy, and the City of Chickamauga Planning Commission. He was elected to Chickamauga City Council in 2013 and served on that board from 2014 until he resigned last fall to run for Commissioner. He also resigned from the Chamber to campaign but is still on the library board.

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