Home Canning, Chainsaw Safety and Fire Ants Highlight UGA Extension Programs in September

Chickamauga, GA – Representatives from Walker County Extension will be back in the classroom in September sharing their knowledge on canning food, chainsaw safety and dealing with fire ants.

Rebecca Thomas, Chattooga County UGA Extension Family and Consumer Science Agent, will explore home food preservation options during a visit to the Chickamauga Library.  Thomas will cover the science behind safe canning methods, water bath canning, pressure canning as well as what foods need to be pressure canned and why.

Home Canning 101 takes place on Saturday, September 14th at 10:00 a.m.  Free dial pressure canner lid testing follows the class at 11:00 a.m. Participants should bring only the lid and weight from their own equipment.  Register for free by calling 706-638-2548.

A few days before the canning event, Walker County’s UGA Extension Agent Wade Hutcheson will offer a free chainsaw safety class.  The course will cover training for disaster recovery, tree cleanup safety, OSHA regulations, personal protective equipment, electrical hazards, hand and power tools, equipment inspection, safe carry and safe start.

The Chainsaw Safety Class will be held on September 11th from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Walker County Ag Center. Register for free by calling 706-638-2548 or click here to do it online.

If you missed the Extension Office class on fire ants back in March, get caught up on September 6th during the next All Bugs Good and Bad webinar.  Dr. Tim Davis will cover how understanding the life cycle of fire ants is the only way to choose and apply a management strategy that works.  The class will be held at the Chickamauga Library at 2:00 p.m.  Register for free by calling 706-638-2548.

There will also be a Sprayer Calibration Clinic and Regional Forage Update on September 4th at the Ag Center in Rock Spring.



Walker Rocks Start Up Challenge Seeks Applicants for Round 2

Rock Spring, GA – Dozens of companies with a household name have been started with a great idea and a little seed money.  If you have a winning concept, the Walker County Chamber of Commerce wants to hear from you.

Round 2 of the Walker Rocks Start Up Challenge kicks off today.  The grant competition returns with another $5,000 in funding to help a recreational, tourism or hospitality related business get started or expand services in Walker County.  “This year, we will also consider other types of businesses, non-profits, civic and community organizations which add to the quality of life and contribute to the cultural vibrancy of the local economy,” said Lacey Wilson, President of the Walker County Chamber.

David Bridges, owner of Battlefield Outdoors, won last year’s contest after he pitched adding a passenger van to his business to transport outdoor enthusiasts to hiking, biking and kayaking destinations in Walker County.  The van was also wrapped with the Walker Rocks logo, creating a mobile billboard to promote tourism in Walker County.

Applications for the Walker Rocks Start Up Challenge, including rules and judging criteria, are available online at WalkerRocks.com.


  • August 14thApplications available
  • September 23rd – Application deadline
  • October 1st – Finalists announced
  • October 17th – Pitch Competition

The $5,000 start-up grant is funded by a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Peach State Federal Credit Union. Grant funds will be distributed in the form of a reimbursement for documented expenses.

Walker Rocks highlights the scenic and stunning destinations available in Walker County for rock climbing, caving, kayaking, hiking, biking and other outdoor adventures. The award winning tourism initiative embraces the county’s environmental assets and invites outdoor enthusiasts to come play.

Rossville Commons Project Lands “Keep Communities Flowing” Grant

Release from Tennessee American Water:

Rossville, GA – Tennessee American Water announces that a $20,000 grant has been awarded to the Top of Georgia, in partnership with the Rossville ReDev Workshop.  The grant will fund the John Ross Commons park and pond improvements and create an outdoor eco learning lab in Rossville.  The grant is funded by the American Water Charitable Foundation through its new Keep Communities Flowing Grant Program.

“Tennessee American Water is excited to continue working with Rossville citizens and city officials on the Rossville Commons,” said Darlene Williams, President of Tennessee American Water. “Since community leaders shared their vision in 2017 for transforming the historical duck pond and park, we have been on board, helping in a number of different ways.”

Tennessee American Water contributions have included employees joining Rossville residents to plant the new landscape, the installation of a main in 2017 so the transformed park would have irrigation and an environmental grant award to support the watershed protection efforts of the natural spring.

“We are grateful to the American Water Charitable Foundation, and Tennessee American Water, for being selected for this very generous grant,” said Rossville ReDev Workshop co-founder Elizabeth Wells. “Tennessee American Water has been a tremendous partner on the rehab of the John Ross Commons from the onset. We believe this new grant will be the exclamation point on this public space that means so much to the citizens of Rossville.”

In addition to the community-based group Rossville ReDev Workshop and the City of Rossville, other partners include the Top of Georgia economic development organization and Georgia State Senator Jeff Mullis.  John Ross Commons serves as an economic driver, quality of life enhancer, and point of pride for a community that is ready to revitalize. The space is also the foundation for a safe outdoor location which area schools will be able to utilize for educational programing and events.

“Our ongoing partnership with ReDev Workshop is helping to bring Rossville back one project at a time. This is an exciting time for Rossville and its citizens,” said Rossville Mayor Teddy Harris.  “We couldn’t do it without the support of our partners and their generous support through donations, time and talent.”

In its inaugural year, the American Water Charitable Foundation’s Keep Communities Flowing Grant Program provided 11 grants, up to $20,000 each, to support 501(c)(3) organizations, programs and projects that connected to one or more of American Water’s core focus areas of Water and the Environment, Water and Healthy Living, Environmental Education, and Community Sustainability.

Walker County Refinances Bonds, Saving Taxpayers Nearly $4 Million

LaFayette, GA – A plan put in motion two-months ago to refinance a series of previously issued revenue bonds will save Walker County taxpayers nearly four-million dollars.

Moody’s Investor Services assigned an A1 credit rating to Walker County for the Series 2019 bonds, which replace Series 2015 bonds.  Four years ago, the county’s credit was considered to be junk by the financial industry, which resulted in a high interest rate and additional fees.

Moody’s based its rating on “the county’s recovering financial position following years of structural imbalances that substantially eroded the county’s reserves and liquidity, resolution of the county’s outstanding liability with the hospital authority,” and other factors involving economics and local government finances.

The improved credit rating, along with an increased demand for bond products in the market this week, helped the underwriter sell the Series 2019 bonds at a low rate of 2.64%, a significant improvement from the original rate of 5.2% tied to the Series 2015 bonds.

“The taxpayers of Walker County are the real winners today,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.  “Together, we’ve worked hard to restore our county’s credibility by targeting debt reduction.  The fruits of that labor are starting to be realized.  We reduced the term on this bond by nearly five years, which will save the taxpayers $3,921,475.”

The Walker County Development Authority (WCDA) issued the Series 2015 bonds on behalf of Walker County Government, in order to fund the completion of infrastructure at the Walker County Industrial Park and provide funding for basic county government operations.

Commissioner Whitfield signed off on the $14.5 million bond purchase agreement during a called meeting today.

Walker County Extension Hosts Sprayer Calibration Clinic September 4th

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Extension will host a sprayer calibration clinic for boom and boomless agricultural spraying equipment on Wednesday, September 4th.  The event begins at 8:30 a.m. at the Walker County Ag Center in Rock Spring.

If you apply pesticides to fields, pastures or row crops using boom or boomless equipment, you should plan to attend.  One hour of recertification credit is available
to private and commercial categories 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27.

There is a registration fee of $5, which is required by August 30.  Contact Walker County Extension at 706-638-2548 to sign up.

Later that same day, Walker County Extension will host a regional Forage update.

UGA Extension Forage Specialist Dr. Dennis Hancock and Weed Specialist Dr. Patrick McCullough will provide information during the 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. event.  Topics will include late summer and fall grazing strategies, winter grazing establishment and management, weed control strategies and herbicide resistance.

If you grow grass for livestock, you should plan to attend.  Two hours of recertification credit is available for Private and Category 21 pesticide applicators.

There is a registration fee of $15, which includes lunch, that is required by August 30.  Contact Walker County Extension at 706-638-2548 to sign up.

Walker County Animal Shelter Resumes Intake By Appointment Only

Chickamauga, GA – The Walker County Animal Shelter will resume intake of owner surrender and stray animals in August by appointment only.  Residents must call ahead at 706-375-2100 and schedule a date/time to drop off unwanted dogs and cats.

“We’re asking residents to call and schedule an appointment, so we can balance the load and keep our staff from being overwhelmed,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.  “The shelter was not designed to hold an infinite number of dogs and cats.  We need to manage intake with capacity, so that the shelter doesn’t become overcrowded again.”

Walker County temporarily suspended intake in late June when the shelter population reached 122 animals.  Currently, there are 59 dogs and cats housed at the shelter.

The reduction in population provided an opportunity for maintenance staff to make repairs at the shelter, perform needed maintenance and make several upgrades.


The shelter also begins August with the appointment of Emily Sadler as manager, a new logo and a community organized supply drive to restock the shelter, after reserves diminished following the increase in intake at the start of summer.

Community volunteer Charity Lewis coordinated the Saturday, August 3rd event.  Donation needs include dog and cat food, treats, litter, unscented baby wipes, Clorox wipes, paper towels and other items.  The Pause 4 Paws supply drive will be held from Noon until 6:00 p.m. in front of Walmart, 2625 Highway 27 in LaFayette.  For additional information or to volunteer, contact Lewis at 423-827-4093.

Walker County Announces Plan to Lower Millage Rate

LaFayette, GA – When property owners in Walker County receive their tax notices later this year, they will see a slight decrease in the county’s portion of the millage rate.

Commissioner Shannon Whitfield plans to reduce the rate for residents in both the unincorporated and incorporated areas of the county.

The new rate of 9.822 mills for Walker County residents in unincorporated locations represents a 0.16% reduction in county taxes.

City residents will experience a 0.28% decrease, as the tax rate for property owners in incorporated areas will be set at 13.293 mills.

The lower tax rate comes on the heels of Walker County Government ending the “Public Health Facilities and Services District,” aka the Erlanger fee, for this upcoming tax cycle.  These two developments mean those with property valued at $100,000 will save over $140 from the county’s portion of the tax bill this year, although changes made by other taxing authorities may impact an individual taxpayers overall savings.

“The days of lease purchases and loans are behind us,” said Commissioner Whitfield.  “We continue to reduce debt, operate on a fiscally responsible budget and explore creative options to enhance revenue, so we can hold the line on property taxes.  The sacrifices endured over the past two and a half years have positioned Walker County to grow and prosper as we progress into the next decade.”

The new millage rate will be adopted at the Commissioner’s Regular Meeting on August 8th at 6:00 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex III building, located at 201 S Main Street in LaFayette.

Walker County Tax Digest 2019

GMOs and their impact on insect populations webinar at Chickamauga Public Library

LaFayette, GA – One out of every three bites of food requires insect pollination and GMO
crops are not going away, at least any time soon.

Join UGA Extension Walker County on August 2nd at 2:00 p.m. at the Chickamauga Public Library (306 Cove Road) for the next “All Bugs Good and Bad” Extension webinar.

This month’s topic will explore the world of insects and how genetically modified crops impact their populations.  There is no cost to attend.  To sign-up please call the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548.