Rossville Police Make Arrest in Copper Theft Oil Spill Case

Rossville, GA – Rossville Police arrested 46-year old Christopher Shane Nichols today in connection with the theft of copper at the Coats American building that resulted in an oil spill.

Christopher Shane NicholsNichols currently faces a felony charge of second-degree burglary in Walker County, but additional charges are possible.  He also stands accused of auto theft in East Ridge, TN in an unrelated case.

Sunday night, authorities discovered an oily sheen near the Coats American building on Maple Street.  Once inside, they found an industrial transformer, containing a PCB warning label, had been tipped over in order to remove a copper coil.

Transformer in Coats American buildingThe vandalism caused an oil spill that prompted a hazmat response, due to the potential release of PCB, or polychlorinated biphenyl.  Other transformers inside the Coats building had also been vandalized in order to steal copper, but those devices did not contain the same warning label.

Rossville Police found a couple of bags of copper, tools and clothing left behind at the crime scene and tracked Nichols with the help of area scrap metal dealers.  “We deeply appreciate the tireless efforts of Rossville Police Chief Sid Adams and his team to find those responsible for this selfish act that endangered our community,” said Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.  “Officer Dewayne Llewellyn should be commended for his quick action and resourcefulness in this case.  His decision to make fliers and pass them out at area scrap metal locations helped develop leads that might not have materialized.”

As for the spill, SRT Safety, an environmental clean-up company, contained the oil to an onsite containment area at the Coats property and placed booms along a half mile stretch from Williams Street Tributary to State Line Road to absorb any residual oil that made it into the storm water.

Walker County, which owns the Coats building, continues to cooperate with the EPA and Georgia EPD to address any concerns created by the oil spill.  Testing in and around the building is being conducted to help determine a plan for remediation.

Reward Offered to Find Copper Thieves Who Caused Oil Spill at Coats American Building in Walker County

Rossville, GA – Copper thieves vandalized an industrial transformer at the Coats American building prompting an emergency response Sunday night.  The incident began after a resident noticed an oily sheen and notified a Rossville police officer, who traced the source to the Coats building on Maple Street.

Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) responded around 7:15 p.m. and discovered a transformer inside the building had been vandalized in order to steal copper.  The transformer was labeled PCB, meaning oil inside the unit likely contained polychlorinated biphenyl, a chemical used for electrical insulation.  The vandalism resulted in an oil spill.

Walker County notified Georgia EPD and their counterpart in Tennessee.  Chattanooga Hazmat also responded and confirmed the presence of PCB in the oil.  SRT Safety, an environmental clean-up company, was brought in to contain the oil that spilled from the transformer.

SRT contained the oil to an onsite containment area at the Coats property and placed booms along a half mile stretch from Williams Street Tributary to State Line Road to absorb any residual oil that made it into the storm water.  The oil that leaked beyond the Coats property is believed to be small, similar to the amount of residual oil that would run off from a big box store parking lot during a rain shower.

WCES and SRT continue to coordinate with Georgia EPD and the EPA, following their guidelines for containment and cleanup.

Anyone with information concerning this crime should contact the Rossville Police Department or Walker County Sheriff’s Office.  The thieves left behind a bag filled with copper and some tools.  A reward of $1,000 is being offered by Walker County Government for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Vandals cause oil spill at Coats American building

Rossville, GA – Vandals caused an oil spill that prompted a hazmat response at the Coats American building on Maple Street in Rossville.

A resident noticed an oily sheen and notified a Rossville police officer, who traced the source to the Coats building.

Emergency crews responded around 7:15 p.m. and discovered a transformer inside the building had been vandalized. The transformer was labeled PCB. A transformer of this size holds approximately 55 gallons of oil.

Walker County notified Georgia EPD and their counterpart in Tennessee. SRT Environmental was brought in to contain the spill. Chattanooga Hazmat also responded and confirmed the presence of PCB in the oil.

Anyone who has seen someone entering this building recently should contact the Rossville Police Department or Walker County Sheriff’s Office. A criminal investigation is underway.

Maple Street at McFarland Avenue, Williams Street and Flegal Avenue is closed at this time.

This building was donated to Walker County in 2007.

With Growth In Mind, Whitfield Announce Staffing Changes for Walker County Government

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield is excited to announce two new members to his administration, as the county pivots from debt management as a primary focus to laying the foundation for sustainable growth.  Robert Wardlaw has been named Economic and Community Development Director and Matt Williamson has been named Legal and Policy Director for Walker County Government.

Wardlaw, a former Coca-Cola executive, built a successful business career founded on strong relationships, ethical behavior and a commitment to others.  In recent years, as a member of the Walker County Development Authority, Wardlaw gained expertise in economic development, site selection, state and federal tax incentives and helping businesses with development plans.

“We have the potential to close a number of active business deals that could lead to the creation of a significant number of jobs in Walker County,” said Commissioner Whitfield. “Wardlaw’s knowledge and proven track record in the business world gives us a competitive edge over other communities to turn these and other opportunities into winning outcomes for Walker County.”

In addition to recruiting new business and servicing existing industry, Wardlaw will work to anticipate and address current and future infrastructure needs to facilitate a thriving community.

Williamson, who served four years as an associate attorney at the highly respected law firm of Womack, Gottlieb & Rodham, will be tasked with helping Walker County keep pace with the needs of its growing citizenry.  Along with updating the county’s codes and policies, he’ll handle day to day legal issues that arise.  Williamson’s first assignment will be to oversee the update to the county’s antiquated Animal Control ordinance.

“I look forward to helping make ordinances clear and concise, reviewing and revising our contract management system, keeping the government in compliance with all federal and state laws and helping the Commissioner carry out his vision of making Walker County a better place for all of us,” said Williamson.

The new additions come at no incremental cost to Walker County. Wardlaw’s compensation will be in line with the county’s previous Economic Development Director.  Williamson, who will be restricted from receiving incentives for working on any future bond issues, will make less than what the county spent in hourly attorney’s fees last year.

Travel Impacted by Sinkhole on North Marble Top Road

UPDATE (7:30 p.m on 2/27/18) – North Marble Top Road has reopened. One lane remains closed near Diamond Drive.

Please use caution while traveling in this area, as this is a temporary fix until a water line can be moved in the coming days.

A sinkhole has forced the closure of a section of road in Walker County. North Marble Top Road is closed from Diamond Drive to Garrett’s Chapel Road.

Only local traffic is being allowed to travel northbound on North Marble Top past Garrett’s Chapel. There is no thru traffic past Diamond Drive southbound.

The hole is about 4′ wide and 6′ deep and is underneath the middle of the road, just before the intersection with Diamond Drive.

Public Works crews started removing the road, dirt, drainage culverts and pipes Tuesday morning. The underground infrastructure will be replaced and hole filled before the road reopens.

Motorists are advised to use an alternate route for the next several days.

Purple Heart Monument Dedicated in LaFayette

LaFayette, GA – A crowd of veterans and their families joined others from the community to dedicate a new monument honoring recipients of the Purple Heart Medal in Walker County.

The City of LaFayette approved a proclamation last November to become a “Purple Heart City” to honor the contributions and sacrifices of men and women from the area who served in the Armed Forces.

Purple Heart Memorial dedication

Retired U.S. Army Colonel Daryl Brooks organized a fundraising campaign to cover the expense of erecting a monument in Joe Stock Park in LaFayette. He thanked everyone who donated to the effort, including a young boy who gave him a quarter in memory of his grandfather.

There are close to 100 Purple Heart Award recipients living in Walker County, a “Purple Heart County” since July 31, 2014.

Request for Proposal released for Construction & Demolition Waste Disposal at Walker County Landfill

LaFayette – Walker County Government (WCG) will receive proposals to haul/dispose of Construction and Demolition Waste from the Walker County Landfill facility to a permitted and regulatory compliant disposal facility.

The Request for Proposal may be obtained from the following locations:

    • WCG Commissioner’s Office
      101 South Duke Street
      LaFayette, Georgia
    • WCG website
    • Walker County Landfill
      5120 North Marble Top Road
      Chickamauga, GA

Proposal packages are due at the Commissioner’s Office by Noon on March 21, 2018. Specifications and additional guidelines can be found in the Request for Proposal (RFP).

Georgia Trend Recognizes Chickamauga as “Live, Work, Play” City

Chickamauga, GA – One of Walker County’s four cities was recently recognized by Georgia Trend magazine with a Live, Work, Play award.  Chickamauga, and just eight other cities across the entire state of Georgia, earned the designation.  Doing so puts Chickamauga in the same quality of life conversation as powerhouse cities like Cartersville, Athens and Decatur.

The Live, Work, Play award highlights a city’s efforts to improve or add local amenities, maintain a strong workforce to keep the local economy flowing and exhibit a friendly, yet conscious community. Recreational events like Ironman, Movies in the Park and First Fridays helped Chickamauga set itself apart, while still being able to maintain its rich antebellum history.

Georgia Trend described Chickamauga as, “a family-friendly city that boasts sidewalks, a highly ranked (seventh in the state) school system and the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, the oldest military park in the country and a huge tourism driver.”

The magazine also highlighted Chickamauga’s partnership with Walker County to designate the city as a Preserve America Community, and the creation of Historic Overlay Districts to protect the gateway into the city.

New Home Construction Permits Post Gains in Walker County

Two New Homes Being Constructed

LaFayette, GA – Walker County experienced an exciting increase in the number of single family new home construction permits issued in 2017.  Data recently released by the Walker County Commissioner’s office shows a nearly 10% surge over 2016.

It takes about six months for a new home to reach the market in Walker County.  Builders generally begin construction a month after obtaining a permit.  It then takes them four to five months to complete work on each new home.  The typical single family home built in Walker County last year had between 1,500 and 1,800 square feet.

While fluctuations in the housing market can change the value of any given property, the total valuation of the 135 permits issued in 2017 topped nearly $21-million, which averaged out to $155,264.11 per property.

Walker County Animal Shelter Partners with Atlanta Humane Society to Save More Dogs & Cats

Atlanta Humane Society Van

Chickamauga, GA – The Walker County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center and the Atlanta Humane Society (AHS) have joined forces to help save more dogs and cats from our community.  The new partnership gives the Shelter access to another non-profit organization with a mission of finding forever homes for adoptable animals.

Animals in crates being transported to AHSLast year, the Shelter took in 2,607 dogs and cats.  Over 60% of those animals were adopted, sent to a rescue or returned to their original owner.  The numbers show a significant improvement over 2016’s combined save rate of 44%.  Shelter Manager Stephanie McTaggart says partnerships like this will build on that momentum, benefiting more animals.

“AHS is a wonderful organization that has a proven track record of placing pets.  All of the animals transferred from Walker County to AHS will be placed in great homes, giving them a chance they might not have here locally,” said McTaggart.

AHS transported eight dogs and nine cats out of Walker County this morning.  The Shelter hopes to send healthy, vaccinated dogs under 25 pounds, along with puppies, cats and kittens to AHS once a month.