Walker County’s Erlanger Fee to be Eliminated

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield made an important announcement this morning that will benefit every property owner in Walker County.

Whitfield proclaimed an end to the Public Health Facilities and Services fee, the ordinance created to pay down the county’s debt to Erlanger Health System over the course of three years.  “We project we have collected enough from the Public Health Facilities and Services fee over the past two years to meet our obligation to Erlanger at the end of this tax cycle,” said Whitfield.  “This means the fee will not be charged on your next tax bill!”

According to the state of Georgia, the average home value in Walker County is $100,000.  The elimination of the fee will remove $140 from the average homeowner’s tax bill.

Walker County will take the necessary steps to formally end the fee in May by amending the ordinance that established it.  Those changes are scheduled to be finalized at the May 23, 2019 Commissioner Meeting.

In 2017, a federal judge ordered Walker County to pay Erlanger $8.7 million plus interest and attorney’s fees to cover its portion of a 2011 loan to keep Hutcheson Medical Center open.  Erlanger agreed to waive interest and attorney fees, as part of a settlement agreement in January 2018, provided Walker County made 13 quarterly payments.

“Dealing with this debt has been a tough chapter in our shared journey,” Whitfield added.  “I thank our citizens for the sacrifices made during this difficult time in our history.  Today, we turn the page.  Today, we start our own chapter in Walker County history.”

Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day Event Returns April 27th for Walker County Residents

Chickamauga, GA – Walker County residents will have a chance to participate in a community clean-up effort next week, as the county’s popular Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day returns. On Saturday, April 27th, the Walker County Landfill will accept tires free of charge from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The community removed 6,741 tires during last year’s Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day event, an 18% increase over 2017. Tires were sent to an approved recycling center and turned into industrial fuel or rubber mulch for landscaping and playground applications.

During the amnesty event, car and light truck tires with wheel sizes 20 inches or less will be accepted, as well as ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tires. Tires must be dismounted from wheels and free of mud and debris. Tires with rims and large truck, tractor or heavy equipment tires are not eligible for amnesty.

Retire Your Tires Amnesty Day is only for residents, not for commercial businesses. Proof of residency, such as a driver’s license or current utility bill, will be required to dispose of tires for free during the amnesty event. Those participating will also be required to unload their own tires and adhere to a limit of 25 tires per vehicle.

Residents unable to transport tires to the landfill should contact one of Walker County’s approved amnesty partners. The City of Rossville, Chattanooga Valley Lions Club and Wilson Road Neighborhood Group are among those participating. Specific contact information can be found at walkercountyga.gov/tires.

Properly disposing of scrap tires helps eliminate mosquito breeding sites. The wet spring has provided mosquitoes with plenty of locations to lay their eggs. A female mosquito only needs an inch of standing water to lay a batch of over 100 eggs. More mosquitoes this summer could hasten the spread of West Nile Virus.

Landfill Hours Updated as Enforcement Begins for Unsecured & Uncovered Loads

Chickamauga, GA – In an effort to improve the customer experience, the Walker County Landfill will begin opening to the public on Wednesdays, effective immediately.  The move comes as the county adjusts gate hours at the landfill to make public access times more consistent and less confusing.  Effective April 15th, gate hours will run 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday for all customers, residential and commercial.  Customers will need to be in line before 4:00 p.m. in order to receive service.

Also, beginning on April 15th, Walker County Police will be issuing $25 fines for unsecured/uncovered loads.  Georgia law (O.C.G.A. 40-6-248.1) clearly states no vehicle shall be driven or moved on any public road unless such vehicle is constructed or loaded or covered so as to prevent any of its load from dropping, escaping or shifting in such a manner as to:

(1) Create a safety hazard; or
(2) Deposit litter on public or private property while such vehicle is on a public road.

Unsecured/uncovered loads lead to littering and motor vehicle crashes.

Earth Day Adoption Event at Walker County Animal Shelter

Chickamauga, GA – “Reduce, Rehome, Relove.”  That’s the mantra this Earth Day at the Walker County Animal Shelter.

The Shelter staff will host a special Earth Day Adoption event on Saturday, April 20th.  Reduced adoption rates will be available for dogs ($45) and cats ($20) during the event and includes spay/neuter, rabies and core vaccination.  Those interested in adopting can save an additional $5 by donating recyclable items like newspaper, toilet paper and paper towel tubes and old t-shirts.

A number of activities will add to the excitement of adopting a pet.  Drop by the shelter to learn how to make homemade treats at the nature’s kitchen station, turn trash into treasure at the toy recycling station or discover all the ways you can help out by volunteering.

The Walker County Animal Shelter is located at 5488 North Marble Top Road in Chickamauga.  Earth Day Adoption event hours run from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 

Walker County Fire Chief Blake Hodge Receives Executive Fire Officer Designation

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Fire Chief Blake Hodge received local and state recognition during last night’s Commissioner meeting.

Hodge successfully completed the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy’s four year Executive Fire Officer Program. The EFOP focuses on leadership development, lifelong learning, being proactive instead of reactive and utilizing research and analytics to reduce risk, among other skills.

Chief Hodge is one of only 72 Executive Fire Officers in the state of Georgia.

Along with a local proclamation to recognize this accomplishment, Chief Hodge received a proclamation from Georgia’s Insurance & Safety Fire Commissioner for the county’s campaign to install smoke alarms in every home in Walker County at no expense to citizens.  305 smoke alarms have been installed so far in 2019.

Ironman Foundation and Walker County Team Up to Provide Emergency Resources to Local Community

Tampa, FL/LaFayette, GA – The IRONMAN Foundation® will provide a $160,000 grant over the course of five years to Walker County in advance of the Sunbelt Bakery IRONMAN® 70.3® Chattanooga presented by McKee: A Family Bakery on May 19 and the Little Debbie IRONMAN® Chattanooga presented by McKee: A Family Bakery on September 29. The community grant will help install 40 new fire hydrants in needed locations, providing additional coverage for Walker County first responders to handle emergency situations.

“It is the mission of the IRONMAN Foundation to create positive, tangible impact in our race communities through grant funding and volunteerism,” said Sarah Hartmann, Executive Director of the IRONMAN Foundation. “With this partnership, we are able to directly impact the safety of Walker County residents. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Walker County and honored to support the community.”

“We are honored and delighted to continue hosting IRONMAN events in Walker County,” said Shannon Whitfield, Walker County Commissioner. “This prestigious and global event provides us with an outstanding opportunity to showcase our beautiful county. We appreciate our IRONMAN partners making this investment in our community.”

IRONMAN athletes will experience the beauty of Walker County as they ride through the area on the bike course for both Little Debbie IRONMAN Chattanooga presented by McKee A Family Bakery and Sunbelt Bakery IRONMAN 70.3 Chattanooga presented by McKee A Family Bakery. This bike course was voted as one of the top 10 courses on both the IRONMAN and IRONMAN 70.3 global circuit in the 2017 and 2018 Athlete Choice Awards.

“IRONMAN provides a valuable economic benefit to Walker County far beyond just this investment,” added Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director for Walker County. “We have already enjoyed numerous return visits from previous IRONMAN athletes who eat, shop and stay in Walker County. They have all discovered why Walker Rocks!”

The IRONMAN Foundation Community Fund provides community and volunteerism grant opportunities to non-profit organizations where IRONMAN and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series® events are held. This year’s grant funding brings the total giveback to more than $633,000 in the Chattanooga and North Georgia regions. In 2019 the IRONMAN Foundation will distribute more than $1.7 million in grant funding to support the needs of IRONMAN race communities across North America.

For more information on IRONMAN and the IRONMAN Foundation, please visit www.ironman.com and www.ironmanfoundation.org.

About Walker County, Georgia

Walker County, GA is part of the thriving Chattanooga, TN-GA MSA, featuring a population of more than 68,000 people.  The county, formed in 1833, is also home to some of the most scenic and stunning outdoor adventure destinations in the Southeast, including Rock City, Lula Lake and Pettyjohn’s Cave.  The county boasts a labor force in excess of 31,000 workers with nearly 39% of local jobs in the service industry. To learn more, visit: walkercountyga.gov and walkerrocks.com.

About the IRONMAN Foundation 

The IRONMAN Foundation® creates positive, tangible change in race communities by engaging athletes and volunteers to participate in programs that demonstrate service through sport and commitment to community. Since 2003, over $50,000,000 has been provided through IRONMAN charitable giveback programs including the IRONMAN Foundation to more than 7,800 local, regional, national and global nonprofit initiatives. Through these partnerships, IRONMAN and Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series athletes are powerfully linked to the community and together we leave the IRONMAN legacy behind in our race communities long after event day. For more information on IRONMAN Foundation programs, including Team IMF, Community Fund, Rock This Town, Your Journey Your Cause, and Women For Tri, visit www.ironmanfoundation.org.

About IRONMAN 

As part of Wanda Sports Holdings, the IRONMAN Group operates a global portfolio of events that includes the IRONMAN® Triathlon Series, the IRONMAN® 70.3® Triathlon Series, 5150™ Triathlon Series, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series®, Iron Girl®, IRONKIDS®, International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Series races, road cycling events including the UCI Velothon® Series, mountain bike races including the Absa Cape Epic®, premier marathons including the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon, trail running like Ultra-Trail Australia™, and other multisport races. IRONMAN’s events, together with all other Wanda Sports Holdings events, provide more than a million participants annually the benefits of endurance sports through the company’s vast offerings. The iconic IRONMAN® Series of events is the largest participation sports platform in the world. Since the inception of the IRONMAN® brand in 1978, athletes have proven that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE® by crossing finish lines at the world’s most challenging endurance races. Beginning as a single race, IRONMAN has grown to become a global sensation with more than 230 events across 53 countries. For more information, visit www.ironman.com.

About Wanda Sports Holdings 

Wanda Sports Holdings is the world’s leading sports business entity, founded to capture the opportunities in the global sports industry and to contribute to the prosperous international sports landscape – in three key areas: 1) Spectator Sports (media & marketing business), 2) Participation Sports (active lifestyle business), 3) Services (digital, production and service business). Wanda Sports Holding incorporates the international sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, the iconic endurance brand IRONMAN, and Wanda Sports China. The headquarters are in Guangzhou, China.

Walker County Rabies Clinics Planned in May

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Extension and your local veterinarian have teamed up to provide low cost rabies clinics again this year.  Protect your family from a deadly disease by bringing your dog and/or cat to one of the locations listed below to be vaccinated.  The cost is just $15, cash only.  Vets will provide a certificate and tag.  Please note, although Walker County now allows pets to be vaccinated using the 3 year shot, this clinic will only be providing the 1 year vaccine.

Saturday, May 11:

Time Location
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Gordon Lee High School
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Rock Spring Elementary
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Naomi Elementary

Saturday, May 25:

Time Location
1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Gilbert Elementary
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Walker County Animal Shelter
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Chattanooga Valley Elementary

 

How Walker Works – Business License

Starting a business in Walker County will soon be more straightforward.  Beginning July 1st, 2019, entrepreneurs will be able to stop by the county’s Planning office and obtain a business license.

Jennifer McSpadden, Owner, Pie Slingers Pizzeria, says “It’s a sense of pride, it kicks everything off and you get excited about opening your business and getting it started.”  McSpadden adds the process of starting a business in Walker County has been confusing.  “In every other location that I’ve opened, and I’ve had four other locations besides here in Walker County… the first step to opening a business is acquiring a business license.”

The Small Business Administration, financial planners like Dave Ramsey and others all advise this step, since a business license is required to complete many start-up functions.  “So they kind of hit that roadblock when they are going to get set up for business insurance or a business loan or even to get set up as a wholesale vendor sometimes they are asked where is your business license,” says Lacey Wilson, President, Walker County Chamber of Commerce.

Along with offering benefits to business owners, consumers will now be able to see which businesses are following the rules and which are not.  Licensing will also provide more accurate economic development data to help recruit industry… data not currently available in the community, because it’s unclear just how many businesses and skilled workers exist.  Wilson adds, “So, if we have an automotive supplier and they’re coming to the area and want to know information about similar businesses, we don’t have that information. If you have a large manufacturer who is locating maybe to another county in our region and they want to know if Walker County is a good fit for their suppliers, we also don’t have that information to be able to give them.”

While licensing begins July 1st for new businesses, existing businesses have until January 1st, 2020 to obtain a license.  There’s a nominal fee of $50 to $150 for the license, depending on the number of employees.

When all the other businesses need to have one, there is accountability to our county.  We all have to have a state license or sales tax license, but to have local accountability and know that your are providing locally.  And then our local government can help us in that they understand we’re a part of their growth and sustainability is very important to us,” says McSpadden.

The cities within Walker County already require a business license.  The new county license only applies to businesses operating in the unincorporated areas.  The application process will open in late May/early June.

http://walkercountyga.gov/tag/podcast/feed