2016
01.25

LaFayette survived another round of winter weather over the weekend when the Blizzard of 2016 failed to do much in Northwest Georgia.

2016 Snow / Ice Flowers on Westbrow Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain battled high winds, fog, and ice, as depicted above – but LaFayette and most of Walker got just a dusting of snow. [Pics courtesy Steve Miller.]

We saw Gov. Deal declare ANOTHER state of emergency, learned how to drive in the snow [NSFW language], and got CNN’s take on the milk and bread thing (it started up north in the 50’s?), but overall the weather crisis was a bust.

More snow, maybe, could fall later this week.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Sonny HugginsFormer State Senator Sonny Huggins passed away Friday, age 88.

Huggins represented the state’s 53rd Senate District (including Walker) in Atlanta during 1983/1984 and again from 1997 to 2000.

He was a forest ranger for thirty years and attended First Baptist LaFayette.

Visitation for the Huggins family will be Monday and Tuesday at FBC, with services following Tuesday afternoon.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

When Duane Hollenbeck’s body was found in Chickamauga Battlefield on 12/12, there was speculation if he had been killed or died of natural causes.

Jennifer DeMott

Now the GBI says he was definitely murdered, and they’ve charged fellow New York Staters Jennifer DeMott and Robert Martin Brooks with bringing him down from NY and causing him to die. The pair also face charges of elder abuse, but so far few details about the killing or motive have been released.

(Brooks was accidentally released from the Catoosa jail earlier this month when employees there forgot to tell the GBI he’d arrived.)

A “tip” from an unnamed eyewitness linked both to the crime.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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2016
01.24

What will happen to Roper when (if?) Haier takes over GE Appliances?

Nobody will know for sure until it happens, but we can look at the Chinese giant’s previous deals to see what they’ve done to other companies after buying them out.

Roper-Haier Combined?

According to Insider Louisville, New Zealanders worried that Haier would shut down and move that country’s top appliance company, Fisher & Paykel, after buying it in 2012. But those fears haven’t come to fruition:

    “People worried the Chinese company would gut the Auckland operations, take the F&P intellectual property, and cut jobs, [NZ business reporter Chris] Adams told IL.
    “The worries weren’t entirely unfounded — but Adams said Haier’s takeover has benefited F&P more than it has hurt.”

Haier propped up Fisher & Paykel financially and even left its previous executives in place to run the business locally. Haier expanded the kiwi company’s research department and hired 80 new engineers.

Likewise, according to a Haier representative speaking off the record, Haier will leave GE Appliances’ current leadership in place after the proposed $5.4 billion buyout deal of that business is done.

    “Haier does not want to do anything to disrupt any of the businesses, particularly the GE division, which is valuable and performing well, the spokesman said.”

How about plant closures? In New Zealand Haier only closed one small factory employing 200 which would probably have closed anyway. Per Insider, any decisions to close GE Appliances facilities in the US will be left up to the company’s current executives – executives who have recently invested billions into those same factories and don’t seem inclined to close any of them.

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2016
01.21

Walker County survived the Blizzard of 2016 with minimal damage.

Walker County Will Survive

Will Walker County survive the snow of 2016??(Yes, we will.)

Posted by The LaFayette Underground on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Predictions of ice and (possibly snow) shut down area schools, offices, and churches on Wednesday and delayed start times for most schools in the region today.

Gov. Deal prematurely announced a “state of emergency” for fifteen northern counties, including ours, to free up state funds to prep roads for the icy death.

Despite GA Department of Transportation efforts and millions of dollars spent on new techniques and equipment, Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk blamed multiple early morning I-75 accidents on lack of preparation from GDOT.

But GDOT did make an effort, unlike Walker County’s road barn.

If that’s the best they can do, best hope this tiny bit of ice is all the winter weather we get this year.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

It’s obviously an election year.

Walker Transit With Client

The same commissioner who tried to shut down Walker Transit for the elderly and disabled in 2013 (and would have been successful if not for brave employees talking to the media and LU readers making calls) now stresses how important the county’s public transportation network is, and says she MIGHT even let them have another bus in 2017. Contingent, of course, on her reelection.

    “‘We looked at cutting the transit service, but we realized it would do too much damage to cut it,’ Heiskell said last week. “We revamped the transit. We tried to cut back and streamline as best we could.'”

No Bebe, you refused to sign a contract with the state that would have allowed Transit to continue past July 1 of 2013, and didn’t tell anybody. County employees went to Chattanooga media and LU, people found out and blew your phone up and you backtracked on your plan.

You doubled the rates for bus riders, mostly old people who don’t have two nickels to rub together, and fired the transit director for talking to Channel 3 about your intentions. (More here and here.)

Now you’re talking up the program which many of your voters depend on, hoping they’ll ride those buses to the polls again in May and click your name.

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us 374 times, shame on voters. Enough is enough already.   Tiny Facebook

Chattooga County investigators search for suspects in two Summerville convenience store robberies days apart – one which sent a man to the hospital.

Hawkins Street Summerville Store Robbery Site

The first robbery was Saturday at a small store called The Cafe on Hawkins Drive near Summerville’s housing projects. Two men shot a clerk in the stomach then got away in a car.

The second robbery was Monday night at Wildlife Food Store on 27 south of Summerville; an employee there was attacked but not badly injured.

Convenience store cashiers working at night should get hazard pay.

No word yet if the two crimes are related.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Barbara Pemberton

Within hours of her arrest last Friday, accused baby murderer Barbara Michelle Pemberton walked out of the Walker County jail after posting a $100,000 bond.

She was booked around 1 PM and went free before 9:00 that night. She’s retained private attorney Mary Jane Melton.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
01.16

Barbara Michelle Pemberton, 47-year-old grandmother from Kensington, sits in the Walker County jail facing two counts of abuse and murder after her grandson died inside a hot car.

Barbara Pemberton

13-month-old Shadoe Braxton Pate was reportedly left inside a vehicle with the heat running and windows up, in direct sunlight, on Tuesday while his grandmother visited with friends in Fairview. Per reports the child was left inside the car for about FIVE HOURS and died due to extreme heat inside the vehicle.

According to investigators Ms. Pemberton was reminded several times through the day about her child in the car, by the friends she was visiting, but at no point did she physically go to the car to check – and the friends didn’t go check on him, either.

36 Circle Drive Rossville

As required by law in the death of a child, the GBI has been called in to investigate and an autopsy was conducted on Thursday. This entire thing seems weird, beyond just an accident; any facts that contradict the stories of the grandmother or her friends will come out through that examination.

(There’s a theory, and this is just theory, that the child didn’t even die in the car and the car story is an excuse to hide what actually occurred.. Autopsy results will find the truth.)

This is the second child-left-in-car death in Walker in the last six months, the only two times we’ve ever heard of it happening here. That one also involved grandparents – but in the case last year with baby Jaxon the grandparents appear to have legitimately forgotten the baby instead of ignoring him for half a day as Ms. Pemberton seems to have done.

More on this as it develops.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

General Electric has found a new buyer for its appliance division and Roper in LaFayette: Haier of China.

Haier US Headquarters

Friday morning GE verified earlier reports that Haier was the primary bidder, offering some $5.4 billion to take over the American unit known for stoves, fridges, and water heaters. (An earlier canceled deal with Electrolux was only worth $3.3 billion.)

The proposed buyout has already been approved by leaders of both companies but they’ve so far announced no timeline for when it will be completed. As before, the deal has to be cleared by the government but this one is more likely to go through since Haier has only a tiny presence in the US appliance market.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Commissioner Heiskell (or whoever runs her Facebook page) has been bragging about three roads being paved in the county under contract.

Bebe Heiskell Facebook - Paving Claims

A handful of years ago Bebe used SPLOST tax money to buy paving equipment so we could do this work all in house and save money. Then she traded that equipment to Talley in return for a paving job, so now every time the work IS done they have to be paid to do it. (Notice what company’s logo is on the sides of the equipment in the photo.)

Talley has been most generous with Bebe’s campaign fund over the years, and their investment into her has paid off – for them anyway.

And once again she’s not doing this with local tax dollars, which she’s blown on other things. This is paid for by the state. She admitted it in her meeting last Thursday:

    WQCH Radio, 01/12/16: “WALKER COUNTY IS DOING SOME ‘WINTER PAVING’ THANKS TO A STATE D.O.T. LMIG GRANT. IT COVERS APPROXIMATELY 9 MILES OF ROAD RESURFACING, ACCORDING TO ROAD DEPARTMENT HEAD, JEFF LONG.
    “PAVING IS CURRENTLY UNDERWAY ON WILSON ROAD IN ROSSVILLE. LONG SAID THAT LEE CLARKSON ROAD IN CHICKAMAUGA WILL BE NEXT, FOLLOWED BY LAKE HOWARD AND STRAIGHT GUT ROADS IN THE LAFAYETTE AREA.
    “LONG ALSO SAID HIS DEPARTMENT IS WORKING WITH THE STATE D.O.T. AND CATOOSA COUNTY, TO GET A TRAFFIC SIGNAL INSTALLED ON HIGHWAY 27 AT LEE CLARKSON, IN CHICKAMAUGA. SEVERAL FATAL ACCIDENTS HAVE OCCURRED AT THAT INTERSECTION IN RECENT YEARS.”
    “…COMMISSIONER HEISKELL ALSO ADDED THAT WORK IS NEARING COMPLETION ON TWO PROJECTS: THE NEW COMMUNITY CENTER AT CEDAR GROVE, AND THE NEW COUNTY FIRE STATION AT HINKLE.”

Those two projects are two areas where she’s wasting money that should be used to pave roads on projects that benefit her campaign contributors and supporters. That Hinkle station, especially, isn’t benefitting anybody but the Davenport family.

We have hundreds of miles of road, she paves nine miles in two years (not even using county money) and brags about it.

Now you want a cookie, Bebe? You want our support because this ONE time you did your job for <1% of the county’s population?

The next election is less than 130 days away.   Tiny Facebook

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2016
01.11

Murder case against Shaina Layne Hughes of LaFayette goes before a grand jury in Chattanooga.

Shaina Hughes Grand Jury in Chattanooga

Hughes, 18, is accused of luring Peyton Hogan to a robbery by offering him sex for drugs on Facebook. Prosecutors say Hogan was shot to death in November by Quincy Goodine after he refused to turn over his narcotics.

The murder happened at the Hamilton County home of a 13-year-old runaway who was later found with Hughes and Goodine in Gordon County, GA.   Tiny Facebook

Commissioner candidate Whitfield answers LU’s question/comment about his support for SPLOST in 2013. Sort of.

Shannon WhitfieldThis is really the only part of his post that matters: “I have always supported the SPLOST tax when placed on the ballot. I have voted for it 100% of the time. I feel this is one of the most fair forms of taxation. It also allows tourist from outside our county to contribute to the building of our local infrastructure, and reduces the burden on the property owners.”

Somebody should ask him now, what tourists? Most of the SPLOST is paid by Walker residents buying diapers and gasoline, not flatland touristers visiting Disneyland Rossville.

(Those of us on the south end of the county who can’t easily hop to Fort O. or Chattanooga for dinner and shopping every day – like North Walker residents do – pay a much higher share of the tax – which is why it always finds more support in Rossville and Chickamauga.)

Most of his response is about what the SPLOST tax is (which we knew), and not why he thought the proven liar sole commissioner wouldn’t waste it again in ’08.

He also basically admitted that he’d vote for SPLOST again under Heiskell even though everybody’s seen how she handled that money in the past. His voting for SPLOST in 2013 (and encouraging others to do the same) after the way Bebe used 2008 funds show he’s either naive or intentionally turned his back to abuse.

Some questions here, and other important ones he’s been given (such as his plans for the 911 center’s budget and how much his company gets from county’s fuel sales each year), remain unanswered.

Looks like he’s all about indirect responses that dodge the meat of what’s asked.   Tiny Facebook

Medical marijuana, school funding, religious freedom, gambling, beer, and more. Hot topics the General Assembly will try to tackle (and probably screw up) during this year’s legislative session.

GA Dome Protest

Another law they’ll consider will exempt tickets for certain sporting events from state sales tax. The purpose of this is to attract a Super Bowl to Atlanta after the Falcons’ new tax-funded stadium is finished next year.

Less sales tax paid by out-of-town millionaires attending the Super Bowl or NCAA Championship means MORE tax burden carried by the people who actually live here.

The fun begins today in Atlanta.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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