News

Walker County Promotes Special Adoption Pricing, Rabies Clinics to Raise Awareness About Pet Health Issues

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield hopes to raise awareness about the importance of responsible pet ownership. During his most recent meeting, Whitfield proclaimed April 30 through May 5 as “Pet Health Awareness Week” in Walker County.

The week will be observed with special pricing at the Walker County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, a number of rabies clinics and a public input session on animal care issues. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of these opportunities and make healthy choices for their pets.

For those looking for a new companion animal, the Walker County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center will drop the adoption fee on shelter dogs to just $25 during “Pet Health Awareness Week.” The special pricing begins April 30th, which is also “National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.” Animals are spayed/neutered and vaccinated prior to being sent home with their new family.

Six rabies clinics will also be held throughout Walker County to coincide with “Pet Health Awareness Week.” Residents can have their dogs or cats vaccinated for just $15 (cash only) on the following dates and times:

Saturday, April 28:
1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – Gordon Lee High School
3 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Rock Spring Elementary
4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. – Naomi Elementary

Saturday, May 5:
1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – Chattanooga Valley Elementary
3 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Walker County Animal Shelter & Adoption Center
5 p.m. to 6 p.m. – Gilbert Elementary

In addition to these events, a public input session on animal care issues will take place on Tuesday, May 1st at 6 p.m. at the Walker County Civic Center in Rock Spring.

Food City Invests in Walker County

Rossville, GA – In a few short months, Walker County residents who live between Rossville and Chickamauga will encounter a new shopping experience.  Food City’s replacement store on Mission Ridge Road will be nearly twice the size of the previous grocery, originally built by Red Foods 46-years ago.

“We’re excited to make the investment in Walker County,” said Steve Smith, President and CEO of K-VAT Food Stores, the parent company of Food City.  “It will create more tax dollars, more job opportunities and a better shopping experience for our people.”

Once complete, the 38,100 square foot Mission Ridge location will be a state of the art supermarket. Customers will find an in-store bakery/deli with a hot food bar, full service meat and seafood departments, rapid checkout service, a pharmacy with drive-thru access and a three pump Gas ‘N Go fueling station.

Food City will also create 50 to 70 new jobs in Walker County when this location opens in June. Those positions will be in addition to workers who were relocated during the construction phase. “We were very concerned about what we were going to do with them. It gave us an opportunity to take them to some newer stores, with more amenities in them, like this store will have when it opens, and get them some training,” said Smith.

Food City HandshakeWalker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield already plans to be a regular customer once the Mission Ridge location opens. “I just live a few miles down the road and my wife has already put me on notice, this is where we’re going to start shopping.”

Whitfield also hopes to work with Food City on additional growth opportunities in the county. “They are already adding the Gas ‘N Go feature to the Food City location in LaFayette and I think they are going to have additional announcements about that store later.”

Food City has three stores in Walker County. Along with the Mission Ridge location, there are stores at 311 North Main Street in LaFayette and 319 Chickamauga Avenue in Rossville. Company wide, K-VAT operates over 130 stores in North Georgia, East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Southeast Kentucky.

Walker County Hosts Storm Spotter Training on May 1st

LaFayette, GA – Walker County wants to grow the number of storm spotters in north Georgia.  The county’s Emergency Management Agency will join forces with its counterpart in Dade County and the National Weather Service (NWS) to host a free SKYWARN Storm Spotter training class on May 1st.

The class is open to anyone in the public with an interest in weather. Amateur radio operators, boaters, public utility workers and police, fire and EMS personnel are also encouraged to attend.

Training topics include basic radar interpretation, identifying storm features and how to report storm information.  These and other skills help ensure the community receives timely and accurate severe weather announcements.

The NWS recently recognized Walker County as a StormReady County, acknowledging local efforts to reach a high level of severe weather preparedness.  A strong base of volunteer storm spotters provides forecasters with an important tool used to fill in gaps undetected by technology.

SKYWARN training will take place at the Walker County Civic Center, located at 10052 Highway 27 in Rock Spring at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1st.  Since this event is open to the public, registration is not necessary.

FM Global Grant Keeps Sparky the Fire Dog Programs in Walker County

Chickamauga, GA – Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) received a $2,700 fire prevention grant today from FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers.

Dale Miller, a field engineer with FM Global, presented the award to Fire Marshal Paul Linder, along with other WCES team members.  The grant will fund the purchase of a new Sparky the Fire Dog costume, which will be used at schools and community events to promote fire prevention in Walker County.

“At FM Global, we strongly believe the majority of property damage is preventable, not inevitable,” said Michael Spaziani, assistant vice president – manager of the fire prevention grant program. “Far too often, inadequate budgets prevent those organizations working to prevent fire from being as proactive as they would like to be. With additional financial support, grant recipients are actively helping to improve property risk in the communities they serve.”

Fire continues to be the leading cause of property damage worldwide, which is one reason why FM Global has contributed millions of dollars in fire prevention grants over the past 40 years.

Pictured are: WCES Deputy Chief Nathan Farrow, WCES Fire Chief Blake Hodge, FM Global Field Engineer Dale Miller, WCES Fire Marshal Paul Linder, WCES Fire Educator Suzanna Tingle, WCES Capt. Robert Stephenson, WCES Firefighter James Bass and WCES Administrative Assistant Crystal Woods.

McLemore Resort Lookout Mountain joins the Curio Collection by Hilton

Lookout Mountain, GA – Designed as a mountaintop haven for guests looking for weekend getaways, special occasions and weekday corporate events, The McLemore Resort Lookout Mountain, Curio Collection by Hilton is the result of a partnership between Chattanooga-based Scenic Land Company and Hilton (NYSE: HLT). The upper upscale hotel, conference center and spa, set to join Curio Collection by Hilton in 2020, will offer 180 rooms and over 10,000 square feet of conference space set within a more than 800-acre mountaintop golf resort development. Sitting at over 2,000 feet above sea level, guests will enjoy dramatic, cliffside views across the pristine McLemore Cove and Pigeon Mountain, as well as numerous dining options, a world-class 18-hole golf course and relaxed outdoor amenities. The location is also set against the backdrop of McLemore Cove and its more than 20,000 acres of protected wilderness area.

“As Hilton continues to grow its upper upscale portfolio of Curio Collection properties, we could not be more enthusiastic about the opportunity that northwest Georgia and east Tennessee represent for our brand,” said Matt Wehling, senior vice president, development – North America, Hilton. “As the first high-end resort in the area, the distinctive property will offer one-of-a-kind mountaintop experiences for guests and is an ideal addition to the expanding global collection.”

In addition to the site’s natural and historical amenities, guests staying at The McLemore Resort will have access to a wide array of amenities, including a world-class spa and fitness center, infinity edge pools, as well as an 18-hole golf course, redesigned by Rees Jones and Bill Bergin. The McLemore Resort will also provide visitors with a premier basecamp for exploration throughout Georgia’s Cumberland Plateau. Nearby access to hiking, cycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, bouldering, caving, kayaking, horseback riding and hang gliding makes the location perfect for outdoor adventure and discovery.

Carefully selected for its strategic location, The McLemore Resort will be a short two-hour drive from five major markets, which include Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville, Knoxville and Nashville. In addition, the corporate headquarters of 28 Fortune 500 companies are located in the region, representing a significant opportunity for weekday corporate events and conferences.

“The McLemore Resort is a perfect intersection for business travelers during the week and leisure guests on the weekends. No place in the Southeastern United States is as conveniently located and rich in natural amenities as we are,” said Duane Horton, president of Scenic Land Company and developer of The McLemore Resort. “As a native of northwest Georgia I fully appreciate both the beauty of the area’s natural amenities, as well as the economic benefit this resort will bring to the community. By partnering with Curio Collection by Hilton, it allows us to develop a property authentic to Lookout Mountain while leveraging Hilton’s reservation system and its renowned Hilton Honors guest-loyalty program. Our team loves this place and people deeply and is excited about sharing it with visitors from throughout the region and nation.”

“The McLemore Resort will provide a tangible boost to the local economy through job creation and tourism dollars from out of state visitors,” said Shannon Whitfield, Walker County sole commissioner, when confirming Horton’s enthusiasm. “We estimate more than 200 direct employment opportunities will be created, along with hundreds of secondary jobs thanks to this resort. Many of these positions will offer pay above the current per capita income in Walker County. The McLemore Resort represents a tremendous opportunity for economic growth in northwest Georgia.”

Leading operations for The McLemore Resort is Euan McGlashan, co-founder and managing partner of Atlanta-based Valor Hospitality, who gained attention early in his career with his historic launch of the Cape Grace luxury hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Under McGlashan’s leadership, Cape Grace was voted Best Hotel in the World by Condé Nast Traveler Magazine in 2000.

“Working on The McLemore Resort with Scenic Land Company and Curio Collection by Hilton brings together my passion for introducing people to new, beautiful settings and creating best-in-class hospitality experiences for them,” said McGlashan. “The team assembled here is driven and devoted to the project’s long-term success and positive impact on the State of Georgia. Valor Hospitality is committed to creating exceptional and enjoyable experiences for our guests. I am confident that The McLemore Resort is going to do just that when we open the doors.”

Funding for The McLemore Resort is provided in part by Scenic Land Investments III, a Limited Partnership consisting of a select group of investors from the Southeast and Midwest.

Walker County Sets Second Public Input Session on Animal Ordinance Update

LaFayette, GA – Walker County residents will have another opportunity to offer input on improvements they would like made to the county’s Animal Control ordinance.  A second public input session will be held on Tuesday, May 1st at 6 p.m. at the Walker County Civic Center in Rock Spring.

About 80 people attended the county’s first public input session in January, before work began to update the ordinance that addresses the welfare of dogs and cats in our community.  Suggestions from the first meeting included making owners responsible for not securing their dogs, limiting the number of animals allowed in residential areas and changing the rabies vaccination rule to recognize the three-year shot.

Walker County leaders reviewed suggestions from the meeting, feedback submitted online and best practices in other communities to draft a comprehensive Animal Control ordinance proposal.  While the draft continues to be reviewed internally, it will be released publicly on the county’s website by April 23rd.

Following the May 1st public input session, formal public hearings will take place on May 10th and May 24th at 6 p.m. prior to the Commissioner’s regular scheduled meetings.

April Meeting Dates Changed

LaFayette, GA – Due to scheduling conflicts, Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield’s two regular scheduled meetings in April have been cancelled.  Commissioner Whitfield traditionally holds meetings on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month at 6 p.m.

A special called meeting will take place on Thursday, April 19th to cover any county business that needs to be addressed.  The special called meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Commissioner’s Office, located at 101 S Duke Street in LaFayette. Once finalized, an agenda packet for the April 19th meeting will be posted online.

Walker County Earns StormReady Designation

The National Weather Service (NWS) has recognized Walker County as a StormReady County, acknowledging local efforts to reach a high level of severe weather preparedness.

In order to earn the StormReady designation, Walker County had to meet certain criteria established by the NWS, state and local emergency management officials.  An Emergency Operations Center, the ability to monitor local weather and river conditions, having multiple ways to alert the public, and trained storm spotters were among the standards required.

The StormReady label provides an expectation that warnings issued by the NWS will be communicated by local emergency management to the public, giving people a chance to respond.

One of the resources Walker County uses to alert the public about severe weather is the Hyper Reach Community Alert System.  Those who subscribe can choose to receive weather alerts by phone call, text message or email. Residents are encouraged to take advantage of this free service by signing up at walkercountyga.gov/alert or by calling 706-638-1437 and ask to be added to the list.

Walker County plans to continue to grow its base of storm spotters.  The county will host a course on what to look for to provide the community with timely and accurate severe weather reports.  Volunteers interested in becoming storm spotters or who need additional training should mark May 1st on their calendar. Additional details, such as a location and time for the course, will be announced in later this month.

TSPLOST Takes Effect Sunday, April 1st in Walker County

Walker County voters approved a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax on November 7, 2017 by an overwhelming margin. On Sunday, April 1st, local businesses will start collecting the additional penny tax to help fund road and bridge projects.

The sales tax rate in Walker County will change from 7% to 8% for most goods and services. Here’s a breakdown of how that 8% tax is figured.

  • 4% – Georgia State Sales Tax (increased from 3% to 4% on April 1, 1989)
  • 1% – LOST (local option sales tax took effect on April 1, 1976)
  • 1% – SPLOST (“special purpose” local option sales tax took effect on October 1, 2014 and ends on September 30, 2020)
  • 1% – ELOST (education local option sales tax took effect on July 7, 2017 and ends on June 30, 2022)
  • 1% – TSPLOST (transportation special purpose local option sales tax takes effect on April 1, 2018 and ends on March 31, 2023)

While TSPLOST will start being collected in April, it will be late summer before the county starts receiving the funds. With that in mind, Walker County is targeting Fall 2018 to tackle the first TSPLOST funded projects.

There are 674 miles of road in Walker County. An engineering firm will be evaluating each road and assigning a grade on a scale of 1 to 100, based on Georgia Department of Transportation specifications. The assessment will cover both paving quality and safety of our roads and bridges. Once the study is complete, the data will be added to our GIS system to map and color code roads by their grade.

This process will also show us where there are clusters of roads that are severe, in addition to which roads are more heavily traveled and create the most safety issues. Then, we will be able to make decisions on which roads to address based on data.

Once complete, the road study information will be made available to the public, so everyone can see the condition of all county roads.

Commissioner Whitfield Provides an Update on County Finances/Growth Plans

 

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield provided an update on the road to financial recovery and path to growth at today’s Walker County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Whitfield revealed how the county’s shared sacrifice approach to tackle $70 million in debt is starting to pay off.

In the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2017, Whitfield slashed $2.4 million from General Fund expenses compared to 2016.  In addition, Whitfield approved a balanced budget for fiscal year 2018 last fall and the county has not generated any new debt, as of March 2018.  $650,000 has also been paid on the Erlanger debt to date.

The highlight of the road to financial recovery came at the end of the presentation, when Whitfield offered a current snapshot of the debt.  The county’s total liabilities as of September 30, 2017 trended down to $66,361,000.

The figure is even lower today, as payments on two Tax Anticipation Notes (TAN), bonds and accounts payable dropped the total liability figure to $52,040,158, as of March 26, 2018.  Whitfield noted that number is a moving target and will likely trend up, as the county will need another TAN at some point this summer.  Still, the numbers show progress.

Whitfield also introduced new hires Robert Wardlaw, Economic and Community Development Director, and Matt Williamson, Legal and Policy Director.  Wardlaw will work to grow existing businesses and recruit new employers.  Williamson will review and recommend revisions to codes and policies to prepare Walker County for future growth, among other duties.