2014
07.12

Old Dollar General Sign

Good news for Villanow residents: Dollar General will be opening a new store in that community within the next year.

Walker County has eight DG stores already, including Rock Spring, Chickamauga, Kensington, Flintstone, and two each for LaFayette and Rossville.

Looks like it’ll be going in at the corner of GA 136 and GA 201, across 201 from the ancient decrepit Favorite Market / Mapco store. Workers have been clearing the lot for something, this is probably what that something will be.   Tiny Facebook

Jamie CookEarly Thursday morning an inmate in the Catoosa County jail was found hanged.

Jamie Shawn Cook was given CPR by jail guards and arrived at Hutcheson alive but was declared brain dead and taken off life support; he passed away Thursday afternoon, age 30.

Cook, who was in jail on drug charges, leaves behind at least one young child.

Per news reports he was sharing a cell with several other men but they didn’t hear or see anything.   Tiny Facebook

More stupid crime (with a Walmart link, per usual) in LaFayette:

    WQCH Radio, 07/11/14: “NOT A GOOD IDEA TO USE A CREDIT CARD STOLEN FROM A FRIEND AT THAT FRIEND’S PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT. LAFAYETTE POLICE WORKED JUST SUCH A CASE LAST WEEK.
    “THEY ARRESTED 31 YEAR OLD CANDICE MARIE ELSBERRY. SHE IS ACCUSED OF STEALING CASH AND A CREDIT CARD FROM HER FRIEND’S HOUSE IN CHICKAMAUGA. THE FRIEND HAPPENS TO BE A WALMART EMPLOYEE. THEN LAST FRIDAY, POLICE SAY ELSBERRY TOOK THE STOLEN CARD TO THE LOCAL WALMART WHERE EMPLOYEES RECOGNIZED THE NAME ON THE CARD AS THAT OF A CO-WORKER.
    “..SUSPECT WAS CHARGED WITH THEFT BY TAKING AND CREDIT CARD FRAUD.”   Tiny Facebook

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2014
07.10

New federal rules mean some residents of public housing (those who choose a “flat rate” rent instead of one based on income) will be paying higher rent in the fall.

LaFayette Housing Authority Culberson Ave Apartments

LU contacted LaFayette Housing Authority about the change. Director Ruth Bass says LHA is “working through the changes” but doesn’t yet know what the local impact will be.

Average monthly rent for public housing in LaFayette now is $200; any changes will start on September 1st.   Tiny Facebook

Most employed Walker County citizens drive almost half an hour to get to work.

Walker County Commute Times

LaFayette residents average 21.6 minutes; people living in the Villanow area drive 32.4. Even those in the Chickamauga area are driving 30.8. That’s about five hours a week lost to commuting.

That’s because more than half of Walker County’s jobs are located in Hamilton or Whitfield. Hamilton, particularly, imports more than a quarter of its workforce from outside communities like Walker and Dade.

Dozens of people in LaFayette, Rock Spring, Chickamauga, even down into Trion and Rome, drive to Chattanooga for jobs in the Enterprise South Industrial Park where VW, Amazon, and several other giant companies are located.   Tiny Facebook

    WQCH Radio, 07/09/14: “A COUPLE SUSPECTED OF DEALING DRUGS WERE WERE FOUND SLEEPING INSIDE THEIR CAR ON THE LAFAYETTE WALMART PARKING LOT. POLICE WERE NOTIFIED LAST FRIDAY AT AROUND 1 PM.

LaFayette Walmart

    “THEY ARRESTED 23 YEAR OLD SHELBY LYNN FRANKLIN AND 28 YEAR OLD CHARLIE JUSTIN HARRIS, BOTH FROM CHICKAMAUGA. A 2 YEAR OLD CHILD WAS SLEEPING IN THE BACK OF THE CAR AND WAS TURNED OVER TO DFACS FOR PROTECTIVE CUSTODY.
    “A SEARCH OF THE CAR REVEALED BAGGIES CONTAINING CRYSTAL METH, A GLASS PIPE AND 5-THOUSAND FIVE-HUNDRED DOLLARS CASH. BOTH ADULTS WERE CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF METH.
    “AFTER HER ARREST, FRANKLIN WAS SEARCHED AGAIN INSIDE THE JAIL, AND A HYDROCODONE PILL WAS FOUND ON HER PERSON. SHE WAS ADDITIONALLY CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF SCHEDULE-3 NARCOTICS AND CROSSING THE GUARD LINE.
    “LAFAYETTE POLICE TURNED THE DRUG CASE OVER TO THE DRUG TASK FORCE FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.”

$5,500 in cash and they can’t find a hotel?   Tiny Facebook

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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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