Walker County & City of LaFayette Recognized for Tourism Efforts

Cartersville, GA – Walker County’s growing reputation as an outdoor adventure destination just received a boost from regional travel industry professionals.  Northwest Georgia’s Historic High Country Travel Association (HHCTA) recognized Walker Rocks with the 2018 Award for Association Excellence for Best Marketing Campaign.

Walker Rocks, a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Walker County Government, highlights the scenic and stunning destinations available in the county for rock climbing, caving, kayaking, hiking, biking and other outdoor experiences.  The campaign launched with the creation of videos highlighting local attractions, a start-up grant competition to encourage business growth in the tourism industry and the introduction of walkerrocks.com and several social media platforms, among other efforts.

“It’s thrilling to know that others in the region are taking note of what we have to offer here in Walker County,” said Lacey Wilson, President of the Walker County Chamber of Commerce.  “The Chamber is proud to be part of the collaborative team working to showcase and share the assets of this community with the rest of the world.”

Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director for Walker County Government, said “This validates the valuable role tourism plays in our community.  Six months in and we’re already seeing an increase in sales tax revenue and a boost in occupancy at area accommodations.”  Wardlaw added, “Walker Rocks is fun, but Walker Rocks is also an economic initiative to help bring equity to our tax base, which in turn helps our citizens.”

HHCTA, which is comprised of travel industry professionals from a 17-county area, also honored one of Walker County’s cities for its tourism efforts.  HHCTA named the City of LaFayette’s Honeybee Festival as Best Event and LaFayette Mayor Andy Arnold as Tourism Advocate of the Year.

Teddy Bears to Help Answer Emergency Calls Involving Children in Walker County

Rock Spring, GA – Fire trucks in Walker County are now transporting a furry friend to the scene of a traumatic event involving a child.

Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) recently received a donation of 30 teddy bears from State Farm Agent Mike Herndon and his team in Rock Spring.  The bears have been distributed to every career fire station in Walker County for firefighters to give to children during an emergency situation, like a wreck or fire.

“Teddy bears can provide a sense of comfort and security during a turbulent time,” said Fire Chief Blake Hodge.  “I hope these friendly faces will remind our youngest patients that the community cares about their wellbeing and make a scary situation a little less frightening.”

Along with the bears, Herndon donated 150 sets of coloring books and crayons for WCES’ Fire Prevention and Education Department to be used in local schools and daycares.

Changing Walker County’s Form of Government

Walker County voters overwhelmingly elected to move from a Sole Commissioner form of government to a Board of Commissioners.  80% of votes cast in the November 6, 2018 election favored moving to a board.  So, how does this work?

In early 2017, the Georgia General Assembly was asked to pass legislation to give the public an official vote on whether to move to a board.  State lawmakers and legislative counsel, using parameters established by representatives from the Walker County Republican Party, drafted a bill outlining the composition of a five-person board, their duties, powers, district maps and other related matters.  Governor Nathan Deal signed the bill into law on May 2, 2017.

As established in the Act, the County won’t change from a Sole Commissioner to a Board of Commissioners until January 1, 2021.  This will allow candidates time to explore and mount campaigns to run for office.  The first group of board members will be elected in November 2020.  There will be four district commissioners and a chairperson.  The four district commissioners must have resided in their district for 12 months, be 18 years of age or older and will be elected by only the voters of their district.  The chairperson must have resided in Walker County for 12 months, be 25 years of age or older and will be elected by all county voters.  Along with presiding over meetings, the chairperson administers the affairs and day to day business of the county.

District 1 & 2 Commissioners will serve an initial two-year term, while the District 3 & 4 Commissioners and the Chairperson will serve four-year terms.  After 2022, all commissioner seats will become four-year terms.  This means every two years, two of the district commissioner positions will be on the ballot.

The state Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Office designed the four districts, attempting to equalize the population of each district in relation to the cities of Rossville, Chickamauga, LaFayette and Lookout Mountain.

walkercc-2017-map

Click this link to open a high-resolution pdf of the district map in a new window to view, print or download.

District commissioners will be paid $12,000 a year and reimbursed for documented reasonable expenses, which the entire board must vote on.  The chairperson will be paid $100,000 or $500 more than the highest paid elected county officer, whichever is greater.  The state dictates elected official pay, based on position and years of service.  District commissioners may participate in county provided health, dental and retirement programs at their own expense.  No county funds should be spent on these programs to benefit district commissioners.

At their first meeting as a board in January 2021, the five commissioners will determine the time, date and place of their meetings going forward.  Those meetings must take place in LaFayette, the county seat.

“How Walker Works” Informational Video Segments Debut

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Government announces the roll out of a new informational web-based video series entitled How Walker Works.

“These short-form segments will provide residents and visitors with 24/7 access to some basic information about how departments operate in Walker County,” said Joe Legge, Public Relations Director for Walker County Government. “Some government functions are highly visible, while others are seldom seen, but provide a valuable service that improves the quality of life in Walker County.”

Each video segment will run about a minute and will cover a different topic.  How Walker Works segments will be available on demand at walkercountyga.gov and posted weekly on the county’s social media sites, including Facebook and Youtube.

The following features are currently in the works:

  • Tax Commissioner
  • Planning
  • Transit
  • Mountain Cove Farms
  • Zoning
  • Economic Development
  • Public Works
  • Landfill
  • Probate Court
  • Code Enforcement
  • Animal Shelter
  • Walker Rocks

How Walker Works launched with a segment on the Tax Commissioner’s Office.  A new feature will be released online each week.

Special Called Meeting Scheduled to Open Bids for Road Project

The Walker County Commissioner will hold a special called meeting on Wednesday, November 21st at Noon to open bids for Walker County Local Maintenance Asphalt Resurfacing Project 2018-02 (Diamond Circle). This is the only item that will be on the agenda.

Please note, this meeting will take place at the Commissioner’s Office at 101 S. Duke Street in LaFayette, not the Courthouse Annex III building.

Provisional Ballot Status from November 2018 Elections

The Secretary of State’s Office has established a secure website and free-access telephone number for provisional ballot voters to access to determine whether their provisional ballots were counted in the November 6, 2018 elections and if not, the reason why.

The website to check your status is: http://sos.ga.gov/index.php/elections/check_your_provisional_ballot_status_for_november_6_2018_election

The free access number is 1-844-537-5375.

A list of provisional ballots that have been accepted or not accepted is also available on the Walker County Board of Elections website at www.walkercountyelections.com

Citizen Service Request (iWorQ) Now Available on Desktop

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Government has expanded the options available for citizens to report an issue with codes, roads, animals and other matters.

Last year, we launched the iWorQ Service Request mobile app for iPhone and Android devices.  Now, all of the same features are available on a desktop for residents who prefer a computer experience.

Simply click here to have the Citizen Service Request form open in a new tab or visit the “Residents” section of the Walker County Government website menu for quick access.

Citizens who currently use the app can use the same login information to access the desktop version.  New users will need to create an account before they can file a service request

Whitfield Hand Delivers Checks to Pay Off Two Loans Early

LaFayette, GA – Walker County’s financial status continues to show significant improvement.  For the second year in a row, Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield repaid two Tax Anticipation Notes (TAN) well before an end of year deadline.

In August, the Bank of LaFayette and First Volunteer Bank agreed to loan Walker County up to $6 million, or $3 million each, to help fully fund government operations until budgeted revenue for FY 2019 started being received.

Today, Whitfield hand delivered checks to both banks to pay off the loans.  Walker County needed only $500,000 from each financial institution to cover expenses, due in part to improved efficiencies at county departments, leaner operations and the passage of a balanced budget in September.

The two TANs cost the county $8,062.10 in fees and interest this year.  In 2017, when Walker County needed up to $8 million in short term loans to meet obligations, fees and interest added up to $135,133.69.

“I know paying off debt may not be the most glamorous topic of conversation.  But getting our financial house in order and restoring Walker County’s reputation remain among my top priorities,” said Whitfield.

“When I took office on January 1, 2017, Walker County’s inherited debt was $70 million. As of today, we’ve reduced our debt by 29% to $50 million,” Whitfield added.  “We wouldn’t be able to reach this achievement without the support of all of our team members and elected officials.”

Tennessee American Water Awards Firefighting Support Grant to WCES

Chickamauga, GA – Tennessee American Water awarded a $500 Firefighting Support Grant to Walker County Emergency Services (WCES).

The funds will be used to purchase the ExamView computerized testing module to assist in the training and preparation of WCES firefighters. The module will generate random exam questions needed for new firefighter training, continuing education and promotional testing.

WCES operates 19 fire stations, serving over 68,000 residents in a 462 square mile area.

Pictured are Deputy Chief Nathan Farrow, Crystal Woods, Chief Blake Hodge, Drew Watson and Adam Chrnalogar from Tennessee American Water, Sgt. Caleb McRae and Lt. Dan Mims

Lunch Conversation with the Commissioner Returns November 1st

Flintstone, GA – Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield invites you to join him for lunch on Thursday, November 1st.

Whitfield will hold the latest Lunch Conversation with the Commissioner event on November 1st from 11:30am to 1:30pm at Susan’s Diner, located at 3551 Chattanooga Valley Road in Flintstone. The public is encouraged to drop by, purchase a meal and enjoy some friendly conversation about Walker County as Commissioner Whitfield visits your table.

The event provides residents who can’t attend Commissioner Meetings in LaFayette with a daytime opportunity to ask questions and share their comments and concerns.

Susan Hays opened Susan’s Diner in 2012, bringing some of her family’s favorite dishes to the restaurant menu. The family owned diner serves soups, salads, hamburgers, sandwiches, and meat and veggie plates during lunch. Susan’s Diner also offers an extensive breakfast menu and features a daily special.