News

Fire Prevention Week in Walker County is October 7-13

Chickamauga, GA – Commissioner Whitfield recently signed a proclamation designating October 7-13 as Fire Prevention Week in Walker County.

Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) ­to promote this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The campaign will focus on educating the public about basic, but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire.

“Working in the fire service for many years, we know that people often make choices in fire situations that jeopardize their safety or even cost them their lives,” said Chief Blake Hodge. “We need to do a better job of teaching people about the potentially life-saving difference of escape planning and practice.”

This year’s “Look. Listen. Learn.” campaign highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire:

  • Look for places fire could start
  • Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm
  • Learn 2 ways out of every room

Sparky the Fire Dog and a FriendWhile WCES and the NFPA are focusing on home fires, these fire safety messages apply virtually anywhere. “Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Chief Hodge. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”

WCES will host a series of events in support of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, including visits to local schools to reinforce the message with our children.

Smoke Alarm InstallationAlso, if you need a smoke alarm for your home, call or email Regina Dorsey at 706-539-1255 ext 111. She will schedule a time for a firefighter to come to your home and install an alarm for free. WCES does this as a community service with our partner, American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia.

Walker County Firefighters Investigate Early Morning Fatal Fire

Rossville, GA – Firefighters with Walker County Emergency Services responded to a house fire early this morning. The blaze was reported around 1:15 a.m. at 306 Dry Valley Road.

When first responders arrived, they found the home already 80% involved.

The bodies of a 12-year old girl and a 51-year old man were found inside. Fire investigators believe both victims died before firefighters arrived. Investigators also did not find any working smoke alarms inside the home.

The bodies of the two victims have been sent to the GBI crime lab for autopsy. Their names are not being released at this time. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

Walker Rocks with Full Weekend of Fall Events

Walker County will be buzzing with activity this weekend, as the county plays host to a variety of memory making events.

The activities begin with the BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) tour on Friday. This three-day bicycle ride begins in Chattanooga and ends in Atlanta, after rolling through the Chattanooga Valley, Chickamauga, Rock Spring and LaFayette. Georgia recently joined the U.S. Bicycle Route System by designating a system of roads and trails as US Bike Route 21. The route will showcase some of the scenic and stunning valley and mountain vistas available for outdoor enthusiasts in Walker County. Click here to see the BRAG route

Ag Festival4H students, farmers and the agriculture community step into the action Saturday at the 2nd annual Walker County Ag Festival. The one-day event takes place rain or shine from 9am to 5pm at the Ag Center on the Civic Center Campus in Rock Spring. Along with rabbit, goat and poultry shows, residents will compete to earn blue ribbons for baking, growing fruits and vegetables, gardening, quilting and other talents. Inflatables, music, a Georgia grown cooking class, beekeepers, arts and craft vendors and other events highlight the festival. Walker County Emergency Services will also be on hand to register residents to receive a free smoke alarm, which they will install. Click here to see the schedule of events

Blowing Springs FarmOther events Saturday add to the excitement. (Now opening Sunday due to wet conditions) See Rock City, Inc.’s Blowing Springs Farm opens will an all-new corn maze design, plus super-sized board games, hayrides, duck races, pedal carts and more. The attraction is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday – Sunday through October 28th. (This attraction is now opening Sunday due to wet conditions)

The Rock Spring Show and Sell Arts & Craft Show at Rock Spring United Methodist Church and Georgia’s “Your State Park” Day are also Saturday.

Sunday brings the return of Ironman. Competitors from around the world will pedal their way through Walker County for the bike portion of the triathlon. Chickamauga serves as a main staging spot for spectators to watch athletes as they cycle through town. Gordon Street will be closed, but many downtown merchants will be open and several food vendors will set up shop for the day. Spectators can line up and down Cove Road and Lee Avenue to experience the action. The 116-mile bike portion of the race begins in Chattanooga and the first athletes are expected in Chickamauga around 10:00 a.m.

Walker County Health Department Now Offering Flu Vaccine

LaFayette, GA – The Walker County Health Department is now offering flu vaccines at their 603 E. Villanow Street location in LaFayette.  Residents should call 706-638-5577 to schedule an appointment.

Public health experts say now is a good time for people to consider getting vaccinated for the upcoming flu season. “Get your flu vaccine as soon as it is available each year,” said Tracy Pevehouse, nurse manager at the Walker County Health Department.  “There’s plenty of it available in our community right now, including at the health department where we have the quadrivalent vaccine that provides broader protection against circulating flu viruses.  We also have the high-dose influenza vaccine, which is more effective for persons 65 years of age and older.”

The Walker County Health Department is open Monday through Wednesday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Acceptable payment methods include cash, credit-or-debit card, Medicare, Medicaid, Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield of Georgia, Cigna and United Health Care SHBP.

If possible, Pevehouse says everyone six months and older should get a flu vaccine by the end of October.  Flu season can start early, and it takes about two weeks after your vaccination for the full antibody effect to develop and provide flu protection.  That’s why it’s better to get vaccinated in September or early October before the flu season really kicks in.

“The flu shot will last through the flu season,” Pevehouse said. “It’s never too early to get a flu shot, as we cannot accurately predict when the influenza season will begin, but it can be too late.”  Flu season typically begins in October and lasts into March.  Peak flu season in Georgia usually occurs in late January and early February.

Who should get a flu vaccine?  Everyone six months of age and older.  Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complication from influenza, including the following groups:

  • Children younger than five, but especially children younger than two years
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women and women up to two weeks postpartum
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who have medical conditions including asthma, chronic lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc.

Health experts say it is especially important to get the flu vaccine if you, someone you live with, or someone you care for is at high risk of complications from flu.

It’s also recommended that pregnant women get a flu vaccine during any trimester of their pregnancy.  There’s added value to the seasonal flu vaccine for pregnant women, too.  Not only does it protect them against the flu, it also protects their newborn infants, for up to the first few months of life at least, at a time when infants are too young to receive the vaccine themselves.

For more information about seasonal influenza and flu vaccines, visit www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

Battlefield Outdoors Wins First Walker Rocks Start-Up Challenge Pitch Competition

Chickamauga, GA – Walker Rocks will soon be hitting the road.  David Bridges, owner of Battlefield Outdoors, won a $5,000 grant at the first ever Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge pitch competition.  Bridges competed against two other finalists, selected from a pool of applicants.

Bridges pitched the idea of adding a passenger van to his business to transport outdoor enthusiasts to hiking, biking and kayaking destinations in Walker County and other parts of the southeast.  The van will be wrapped with the Walker Rocks logo, along with artwork featuring Walker County based attractions.  “It’s a way for people to find out about us and to get interest in an area that we know is so great,” said Bridges.  “There are so many things that would lend to people wanting to come here.”

The Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge pitch competition was designed to help a recreational, travel or hospitality business get started or expand in Walker County, building on the momentum created by the launch of Walker Rocks this summer.

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

In addition to promoting tourism in Walker County, Bridges said the shuttle, which will be able to carry up to 15 people, will make it feasible for Battlefield Outdoors to take people to Pigeon Mountain, McLemore Cove and other locations for excursions.

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.

Commissioner Provides 3rd Quarter Update on County Finances & Improvements

Rossville, GA – Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield provided an update on the road to financial recovery at the latest Walker County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Whitfield discussed the 270 day turnaround in cash flow and how the county was able to operate longer in 2018 without a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN) compared to last year.

In January 2017, Walker County faced an $8 million shortfall in operating expenses for the year. The county addressed the financial crisis through a series of moves to cut expenses, improve efficiencies and using $7.5 million of an $8 million line of credit, which was paid off early on December 22, 2017. This year, TAN’s are $2 million less than the amount authorized last year.

Whitfield also revealed a number of other accomplishments, including a $12,000 profit at the Walker County Landfill following years of six-figure losses, a significant reduction in the number of animals euthanized at the Walker County Animal Shelter and plans for road improvements in the near future.

In addition, the Commissioner discussed the budget process, roadside mowing and Walker Rocks during his update.

Walker County Receives State Grant to Target Litter and Enhance Community Pride

LaFayette, GA – A state grant just awarded to Walker County will save taxpayers thousands of dollars and keep a valuable community service in operation.

The Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources approved a “Right of Way Litter Detail” grant for Walker County. Grant funds will offset some of the cost of operating Walker County’s Litter Detail Program (LDP), which aims to improve the county’s appearance and promote civic pride.

Walker County will be reimbursed for qualified expenses ranging from protective equipment, such as gloves and boots, to fuel and maintenance for the LDP’s transport vehicle.

“This is a great thing for our community,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield. “This grant validates the work being done to beautify our county and supports our efforts to eliminate potential eyesores. With a growing number of outdoor enthusiasts coming here for Walker Rocks activities, first impressions are key.”

Whitfield added, “I appreciate the state’s investment in this initiative and the contributions of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office and their trustees to make this program a success.”

The LDP, which consists of one county employee and several trustees, removed 123,020 pounds of litter from public right of ways in 2017.

Three Finalists Selected for Walker Rocks Start-Up Challenge Pitch Competition

Chickamauga, GA – $5,000 will be on the line later this month when three local entrepreneurs compete in the first ever Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge.

The Walker Rocks Start-up Challenge is a pitch competition designed to help a recreational, travel or hospitality business get started or expand in Walker County, building on the momentum created by the launch of Walker Rocks this summer.

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

Back Archer Farms, Tess de’Carlo and Battlefield Outdoors will present their ideas to a panel of judges at a pitch event on Thursday, September 20th. Each finalist will have 10 minutes to describe their idea and field questions from the judges. The competition begins at 4:00 p.m. at the Walker County Civic Center and is free and open to the public.

A $5,000 start-up grant, funded by a partnership between the Walker County Chamber of Commerce and Peach State Federal Credit Union, will be on the line at the September 20th pitch event. Grant funds will be distributed to the winner in the form of a reimbursement for documented expenses.

Walker County Plans 9/11 Remembrance Service

LaFayette, GA – On the 17th anniversary of the horrendous terrorist attack on our nation, Walker County will hold a public 9/11 Remembrance Service on the steps on the Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette.

The service, led by Walker County Emergency Services, begins at 8:30 a.m. and includes the ringing of a bell at 8:46 a.m. to recognize the locations this country was attacked.

Students from LaFayette High School’s JROTC and chorus programs will be participating in the program, along with Walker County Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Blake Hodge, LaFayette Fire Services and Emergency Management Director Stacy Meeks and Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson.

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield recently signed a proclamation recognizing September 11, 2018 as Patriot Day in Walker County, encouraging citizens to observe this day with patriotism and thankfulness.

WHAT:           9/11 Remembrance Service

WHEN:           Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE:         Walker County Courthouse steps (103 S Duke Street, LaFayette, GA)

Walker County Finances Improving; 2018 TAN Need Reduced by $2 Million

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield signed two resolutions Thursday authorizing the county to partner with two local banks to improve cash flow.

The Bank of LaFayette and First Volunteer Bank each agreed to loan Walker County up to $3 million through a Tax Anticipation Note (TAN). These short term loans, which must be repaid by the end of the calendar year, will help fully fund government operations until budgeted revenue is received.

“We originally thought we would need to do this in May. We’ve gone three months longer than anticipated, which means we’ve had good money management. Our entire county government team has committed to make sure every citizen’s dollar is spent wisely,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield. “We are getting our financial house in order and Walker County is earning its credibility back.”

In January 2017, Walker County faced an $8 million shortfall in operating expenses for the year. The county addressed the financial crisis through a series of moves to cut expenses, improve efficiencies and using $7.5 million of an $8 million line of credit, which was paid off early on December 22, 2017. This year, TAN’s are $2 million less than the amount authorized last year. Commissioner Whitfield aims to reduce the need for TAN’s by $2 million each year until the cycle is broken.

“I cannot say enough positive things about The Bank of LaFayette and First Volunteer Bank,” added Commissioner Whitfield. “They both stepped up last year and stood in the gap for this county when everyone else was running for cover. Their boards took a risk, but they also took pride in their community by doing their part to support the direction the county is moving in.”

Walker County remained committed to continuing its relationship with these local lenders because of their steadfast support last year. The Bank of LaFayette will charge a 3.10% interest rate on its TAN, while First Volunteer Bank will charge 3.25% interest.