Expanded Library Hours at LaFayette and Rossville Branches

Release from the Cherokee Regional Library System:

LaFayette, GA – Beginning August 1st, Walker County residents will have increased access to two of its public library branches.

The LaFayette-Walker County Public library will be open an additional four hours each week, on Thursday and Friday mornings.  The additional hours means LaFayette branch will now open at 10:00 a.m. every day that they are open.

The Rossville Public Library is now open until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, which gives this location a second extended evening.  This not only adds convenience for those who can’t come to the library during daytime hours, but provides a second night to offer quality after-hour programs that have become popular at this branch.

These additional library hours would not be possible without the continued support from all of the library’s funding agencies and donors.

New hours effective August 1, 2019:

LaFayette-Walker County Branch

  • Monday: 10:00am – 6:00pm
  • Tuesday: 10:00am – 7:00pm
  • Wednesday: CLOSED
  • Thursday: 10:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Friday: 10:00am – 2:00pm
  • Saturday: 10:00am – 2:00pm

Rossville Branch

  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: 9:00am – 7:00pm
  • Wednesday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Thursday: 10:00am – 7:00pm
  • Friday: CLOSED
  • Saturday: 10:00am – 2:00pm

Hepatitis A spreading among Walker County residents; Health Department offering free hep A vaccinations

This information comes from the Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District:

Rome, GA – Public health officials have confirmed 92 cases of hepatitis A among Walker County residents since June 2018 and are urging vaccination against the highly contagious liver infection for people most at risk of the vaccine-preventable disease, especially illicit (injection and non-injection) drug users, individuals who have recently been in jail or prison, and their close contacts.

Officials are also encouraging all persons who work in food-service establishments, such as restaurants and cafeterias, to be vaccinated.

The Walker County Health Department, 603 E. Villanow Street, LaFayette, is offering free hepatitis A vaccinations during regular business hours.  No appointment is needed.

The 92 hepatitis A cases have been confirmed in Walker County residents since a serious uptick in Georgia hepatitis A cases began last June. According to the CDC, Georgia is one of 18 states experiencing an outbreak of the highly contagious liver infection.

Since June 2018, 471 cases of hepatitis A have been confirmed statewide. Of these, 204 cases, 43% of the state total, have been in the ten-county Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District, which includes Walker County. The health district normally confirms, on average, one case per year.

Hep A totals and comparison 7 10 2019 (3)

“Hepatitis A is spreading among Walker County residents,” said Dr. Zachary Taylor, interim health director for the Northwest Health District, “and we want to stop it here before it gets to the level we’ve seen in other Northwest Georgia counties. The best protection against hepatitis A is vaccination.”

Those most at risk of hepatitis A include:

  • illicit (injection and non-injection) drug users
  • individuals who have a history of incarceration in  jail or prison
  • men who have sex with men
  • close contacts of people with hepatitis A
  • homeless or transient individuals
  • persons with close contact to someone with these risk factors

“We urge individuals with one or more of these risk factors, especially illicit drug use, to get vaccinated,” says Dr. Taylor. “If you’ve had hepatitis A, you have lifelong immunity to the disease and do not need to be vaccinated. Also, since hepatitis A vaccination is required for school-age children born on or after January 1, 2006, these individuals do not need vaccination.”

“Adults should get the vaccine if they fit into one of these risk factors.  If they don’t, their risk is so low that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal preference.  If you are not sure whether you should get the hepatitis A vaccine, talk with your doctor about your specific concerns.”

The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to practice good hygiene, proper handwashing, careful and sanitary preparation of food, and by getting vaccinated against the hepatitis A virus.

The increase in Northwest Georgia hepatitis A cases, public health officials believe, is related to a hepatitis A outbreak in neighboring Tennessee that has sickened over 1,600 people since December 2017. “We noticed the spread of illness go across the state line from Tennessee into Georgia,” says Northwest Health District Epidemiologist Melissa Hunter, “and we’ve watched it move south, roughly following U.S. Highway 27, I-75, and their surrounding counties, propelled by illicit drug use, both IV and non-IV.”

Public health, of course, has done more than just monitor the southward movement of the disease, says Dr. Taylor. “We’ve responded to the outbreak by working with local healthcare providers and other community partners to educate and encourage vaccination for those in high-risk groups, we’ve held free-vaccination clinics at our county health departments, and we’ve worked with our jails and prisons to provide free vaccinations.  Our environmental health inspectors have worked closely with managers and operators of food-service establishments to minimize the possibility of hepatitis A transmission from an infected worker to customers.”

Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable, communicable disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is usually transmitted person-to-person through the fecal-oral route or consumption of contaminated food or water.

Most people who get hepatitis A feel sick for several weeks, but they usually recover completely and do not have lasting liver damage. In rare cases, hepatitis A can cause liver failure and death; this is more common in people older than fifty and in people with other liver diseases.

Most adults with hepatitis A have symptoms, which may include fatigue, low appetite, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dark-brown urine, light-colored stools, and jaundice, that usually resolve within two months of infection; most children less than six years of age do not have symptoms or have an unrecognized infection. A doctor can determine if you have hepatitis A by discussing your symptoms and taking a blood sample.

You should get hepatitis A vaccine if you:

  • use illicit drugs
  • work in the food-service industry
  • are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common
  • are a man who has sex with other men
  • have a chronic liver disease such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • expect to have close personal contact with someone who is at risk of having hepatitis A

Ask your healthcare provider if you want more information about any of these groups. There are no known risks to getting hepatitis A vaccine at the same time as other vaccines.

For more information about hepatitis A and free hepatitis A vaccinations, contact the Walker County Health Department at 706-638-5577 or visit https://nwgapublichealth.org

Walker Rocks with Photo Scavenger Hunt at Lula Lake Land Trust

Lookout Mountain, GA – The thrill of hiking Lula Lake Land Trust reaches a new level as the popular nature preserve with limited public access doubles as the location for a photo scavenger hunt.

The event, which takes place on Saturday, July 13th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is the third offering in the Walker Rocks Outdoor Series, which was created by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce to raise local awareness about Walker County’s outdoor destinations.

Visitors will be given two hours to find and photograph specific items while walking Lula Lake’s trails.  Pictures can then be posted on each participant’s Facebook page and tagged to the Walker Rocks Facebook page (@Walker Rocks) for a chance to win a prize.

Scavenger hunters will then get an hour of free time to picnic and explore the falls, the east brow of Lookout Mountain and other scenic locations.

Admission to the scavenger hunt is free, but pre-registration is required at walkerrocks.com due to limited space.  Participants must also be able to walk a minimum of three miles to take part in this event.

The Walker Rocks Outdoor Series moves to LaFayette on August 17th with Dive-in Movie and Such, a mini SUP board and kayak festival at Queen City Lake.  That event concludes with a showing of Jaws on the water.

How Walker Works – Fireworks Safety

Chickamauga, GA – Many Americans celebrate Independence Day with a parade, picnic or BBQ and of course, fireworks.  “It’s enjoyable, but they are dangerous. They can hurt and they have hurt so just be very cautious when you do fireworks,” says Walker County Fire Inspector Jeff Roerdink.

Fireworks were involved in over 9,000 injuries that required a hospital visit in 2018, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission

Roerdink offers a few recommendations to keep you from becoming a statistic this Fourth of July.  “If you have a firework, don’t hold on to that firework.  That firework is considered an explosive and it can remove fingers and cause all sorts of damage.  Be smart with what you are going to do with these fireworks.  Don’t shoot them at each other.”

Here are a few other safety tips:

  • Shoot fireworks off from a solid surface, like a concrete pad, so they won’t fall over
  • Never try to relight a dud
  • Keep a bucket of water close by to douse spent fireworks
  • Think twice before letting small children hold sparklers, which burn hot enough to cause third degree burns

On the subject of sparklers, Roerdink has some additional perspective.  “To put it into perspective, wood generally burns at 300 to 400 degrees fahrenheit, so a sparkler is 1200 degrees fahrenheit, that temperature is enough temperature to actually burn some metals.”

Roerdink says the best way to take part in a fireworks display is as a viewer… letting professionally trained pyrotechnicians handle the show.  “I just want to make sure everybody has a safe and happy Fourth of July from Walker County Fire Rescue.”



Walker County Fire Rescue Responds to Early Morning Fire at Landfill

Chickamauga, GA – A recently filled area of the Walker County Landfill caught fire early this morning.

Around 2:00 a.m., material that had been brought to the landfill Tuesday flared up in the Construction and Demolition section, where building waste such as lumber, glass and brick is disposed.

Firefighters with Walker County Fire Rescue used about 35,000 gallons of water to contain the blaze, which covered about a fourth of an acre.  Landfill and Public Works crews also smothered the area with dirt to further combat hot spots.

Crews will continue to monitor this area in case the fire rekindles.  A cause for the fire remains undetermined.

Georgia EPD has been advised of the incident and is monitoring the situation.

Walker Rocks Outdoor Series Continues with Kayak Day at Lee & Gordon’s Mills on June 22

Chickamauga, GA – Adventure awaits on West Chickamauga Creek later this month, as Kayak Day floats to the top of the Walker Rocks Outdoor Series.

On June 22nd from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., explore what it’s like to take a peaceful journey aboard a touring kayak at Lee & Gordon’s MillsBattlefield Outdoors will provide demonstration kayaks to give beginners a taste of what it’s like to go paddling on the creek.

Visitors are encouraged to picnic with family and friends onsite during Kayak Day, which is a free community event.  Participants are also advised to bring sunscreen, bottled water, a dry or ziplock bag and a towel.

The Lee & Gordon’s Mills launch site is part of the South Chickamauga Creek Blueway, which runs from Chickamauga to Fort Oglethorpe en route to the Tennessee Riverpark, near Chattanooga State Community College.

Interest in recreational kayaking has more than doubled over the past decade, according to The Outdoor Foundation’s 2018 Outdoor Participation Report.  Kayak Day aims to build on that growth, by eliminating some of the apprehension associated with learning how to safely maneuver this outdoor activity.

The Walker Rocks Outdoor Series continues on July 13th with a Trivia Scavenger Hunt at Lula Lake on Lookout Mountain.  Admission will be free, but pre-registration will be required due to limited space.