Walker County Schedule Changes for 1/16/18 & 1/17/18

  • Walker County Water & Sewerage Authority will be on a 2 hour delay Wednesday.
  • Walker County Schools and Chickamauga City Schools are closed Wednesday.
  • Walker County Government offices will close at 2 p.m. Tuesday and delay reopening until 10 a.m. Wednesday. This includes the Courthouse. Juvenile Court will start at 10 a.m. Operational hours for Walker Transit may be adjusted further.
  • Walker County employee clinics in LaFayette and Chickamauga operated by CHI Memorial Convenient Care will close at 2 p.m. Tuesday and reopen at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
  • Walker Transit Service will have a limited schedule on Tuesday, January 16th, due to the potential for inclement weather. Transit will operate until 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
  • Walker County Schools and Chickamauga City Schools are closed Tuesday.

Walker County Seeks Public Input on Animal Ordinances

2 Dogs at the Animal Shelter

LaFayette, GA – Walker County plans to update its ordinances dealing with domestic animals in 2018.  Before the work begins, we want to hear from you.

A public input session will be held to seek suggestions on whether new regulations should be considered, as well as review existing county ordinances and state laws addressing the welfare of dogs and cats in our community.

The public input session will be held on Tuesday, January 30th at 6:00 p.m. at the LaFayette-Walker County Public Library, 305 S Duke Street in LaFayette.

Walker County, American Red Cross Partner to Provide Free Smoke Alarms to Residents

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) and the American Red Cross of Northwest Georgia are sounding the alarm to save lives. The two organizations have partnered to provide free smoke alarms to Walker County residents in need of these life saving devices.

WCES received a donation of 150 smoke alarms from the Red Cross to distribute throughout the community. Residents can call 706-539-1255 and press #2 for the Fire Marshal’s office to request one. Smoke alarms will be given out and installed on a first come, first served basis. Once the supply is exhausted, WCES will place residents on a waiting list to receive an alarm as additional inventory becomes available.

Special smoke alarms for hearing impaired residents are also available.

WCES worked 71 residential fires in 2017. In recent weeks, firefighters have responded to a number of incidents where smoke alarms alerted homeowners to a problem, allowing them to escape safely. However, the National Fire Protection Association reports roughly five-million households still do not have even one working smoke alarm.

December, January and February are peak months for residential fires, due to increased use of home heating equipment.

Erlanger, Walker County Agree to Settle Debt

LAFAYETTE, GA – Officials with Walker County and the Erlanger Health System have agreed to settle an $8.7 million debt stemming from a loan commitment made by the previous Walker County administration.  Former Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell pledged taxpayer dollars to cover this loan to Erlanger in 2011, as part of an intergovernmental agreement with the Hutcheson Medical Center board.

As part of the full settlement, Erlanger will waive interest and attorney fees awarded in its federal judgment against Walker County, and the County has agreed to make payments of $650,000 for 12 quarters, starting in January 2018.  Walker County will make a 13th and final payment of $900,000 to Erlanger by the end of 2020, according to the terms of the full settlement.

“I am deeply appreciative for the empathy shown by Erlanger toward the people of Walker County,” said Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.  “Our citizens didn’t get the county into the financial mess we are working to correct, but they are being asked to help dig us out.  By allowing Walker County to pay off this debt over three years, we understand that Erlanger recognizes real people are making real sacrifices,” he said.

Erlanger President & CEO Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE, said, “With Walker County’s commitment to repay the full amount due today, Erlanger is pleased to conclude these negotiations and waive both the interest and attorney fees.  We remain committed to caring for patients from Northwest Georgia, and will continue to look for opportunities to partner with Commissioner Whitfield and the good citizens of Walker County.”

Jack Studer, Chairman of the Hamilton County Chattanooga Board of Trustees, also expressed his gratitude for the settlement agreement between Erlanger and Walker County.  “I am appreciative of the leadership from both Commissioner Whitfield and CEO Kevin Spiegel for putting our two great organizations on more solid footing for the future.” Studer added, “Erlanger is honored to serve North Georgia, and looks forward to continuing to provide world-class care to everyone in Walker County.”

Commissioner Whitfield said, “This agreement will save the county nearly $580,000, and gives our taxpayers peace of mind. We have reached a full settlement that allows us to make payments and brings closure to an issue that has concerned our community.”

Read the Forbearance Agreement Between Erlanger and Walker County here.

Walker County Contracts with CHI Memorial for New Workforce Wellness Program

LaFayette, GA – In a move aimed at improving the health of its workforce, Walker County will launch a comprehensive wellness program beginning January 2018. CHI Memorial has been contracted to manage the new program.

The agreement, which runs for three years, will provide county covered employees with access to a wellness coach, tobacco cessation resources and multiple clinic locations providing preventative and urgent medical care, pharmacy and laboratory services.

“This move will save the county about $40,000 a year, based on the synergy CHI Memorial brings to the table,” said Commissioner Shannon Whitfield. “Plus, CHI Memorial has locations in LaFayette and Chickamauga, as well as extended office hours, including Saturdays. This will make it more convenient for our covered team members to make their health a priority.”

“At CHI Memorial, we know that an organization is only as strong as its employees,” said Andrew McGill, Sr. Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, CHI Memorial.  “That’s why CHI Memorial Workplace Health is committed to delivering a comprehensive corporate health and wellness program with preventative and urgent care services, and health coaching for chronic conditions that helps employees improve their health and well-being so they can lead healthier, productive lives.”

Walker County also plans to provide a health risk assessment for all of its employees. “The CHI Memorial team will work with our team to prevent things like diabetes or a heart attack, producing happier, healthier employees. That’s in addition to having access to convenient care services when you feel sick,” said Commissioner Whitfield.

Walker County has offered a worksite clinic for many years at the Commissioner’s Office building. Along with reducing costs and improving access to care, this agreement allows the county to get out of the prescription drug dispensing business, which will reduce liability concerns, which Commissioner Whitfield has expressed from day one.

“I’m finding many of our employees use tobacco products. In 2018, we will work through our new wellness program to help our team members kick the habit,” added Commissioner Whitfield. “My goal has been to take our clinic experience for our team members to a higher level of care. CHI Memorial is the best partner for Walker County to help us achieve this goal.”

Walker County Pays Off $7.5 Million in Loans Early

LAFAYETTE, GA – Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield successfully repaid two Tax Anticipation Notes (TAN) before an end of year deadline, saving the county an estimated $12,194 in interest.

Walker County borrowed $4 million from the Bank of LaFayette in January and received a $4 million line of credit from First Volunteer Bank of LaFayette in June to fund the county’s monthly operational expenses. The loans were necessary after the previous administration left Walker County over $70 million in debt, with very little cash on hand and over $3.5 million in past due bills on January 1st.

Commissioner Whitfield pointed out the county actually borrowed less than originally estimated. “We projected we would need $8 million to meet our obligations for 2017. After restructuring some services to manage county government more efficiently, we only had to borrow $7.5 million,” said Whitfield.

Walker County made a $1 million payment on the Bank of LaFayette TAN on November 13th and a $2 million dollar payment on December 12th. Whitfield hand delivered checks to the Bank of LaFayette and First Volunteer Bank of LaFayette on December 22nd to pay off the remainder of both loans.

A $5 million TAN from an out of town bank obtained in 2016 by former Commissioner Bebe Heiskell cost the county $258,393 in fees and interest. Whitfield affirmed, “Walker County borrowed $7.5 million in 2017 from two local financial institutions, receiving lower fees and favorable interest rates that added up to $135,133. Banking local saved the county $123,260 compared to the previous year’s TAN loan.”

Whitfield anticipates another TAN won’t be needed until summer 2018. “As we continue to make progress to return Walker County to solid financial footing, I hope to end the process of borrowing money for regular day to day operations by 2020.”

‘Adopt-A-Thon’ Pricing Extended at the Walker County Animal Shelter After A Successful Weekend

Chickamauga, GA – 24 animals found new homes during the Walker County Animal Shelter’s “12 Hours of Christmas Adopt-A-Thon” this weekend. The 17 dogs and 7 cats will be spayed/neutered and receive a rabies vaccination before joining their new families for the holidays.
The event featured special adoption pricing to encourage potential pet owners to tour the Walker County Animal Shelter, located at 5488 North Marble Top Road near Chickamauga. Thanks in part to lower fees and a visit from Santa, the Shelter doubled its goal of adopting out at least one dog or cat every hour during the “Adopt-A-Thon.”

Still, a number of people who visited the Shelter this weekend were unable to make a same day commitment. Recognizing continued demand and the benefits of placing more animals into loving homes, Shelter Director David Brown agreed to extend the special adoption pricing through the end of the year.

Adopt fees will be set at $30 for dogs and $15 for cats until the close of business December 30th. Regular adoption fees of $65 for dogs and $30 for cats will return when the Shelter reopens to the public on January 2nd. All animals available for adoption will be spayed or neutered and vaccinated for rabies before being released.

The Shelter is open for adoptions from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays. In observance of the holidays, the Shelter will be closed Monday, December 25th; Tuesday, December 26th; and Monday, January 1st.

Walker County Landfill Offers Free Recycling Day on December 26th

Chickamauga, GA – A “Free Recycling Day” will be offered on Tuesday, December 26th at the Walker County Landfill, 5120 N Marble Top Road, Chickamauga.

Residents are encouraged to bring recyclable Christmas related trash, such as wrapping paper, cardboard boxes and greeting cards, to the Landfill between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Other reusable material, including cans, paper milk/juice cartons and some plastics, will also be accepted. A list of materials that can be recycled can be found here.

Walker County provides free recycling year-round at the landfill for a limited number of materials. During the “Free Recycling Day,” additional recycling bins and staff will be available. Residents with questions about whether a particular material can be recycled should contact the Landfill at 706-375-8910.

In observance of the holidays, the Landfill will be closed on Saturday, December 23rd; Monday, December 25th; and Monday, January 1st.

Walker County Animal Shelter Hosts ’12 Hours of Christmas’ Adopt-A-Thon

Chickamauga, GA – The Walker County Animal Shelter will host a “12 Hours of Christmas Adopt-A-Thon” on Saturday, December 16th. The event will run from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the shelter, located at 5488 North Marble Top Road near Chickamauga.

The shelter will offer special adoption pricing during the Christmas Adopt-A-Thon. Dogs will be $30, while cats will be $15. Regular adoption fees run $65 for dogs and $30 for cats. All animals available for adoption will be spayed or neutered and vaccinated for rabies.

“We hope this event will encourage someone interested in pet ownership to give the gift of family to one of our shelter pets,” said Stephanie Lea, Shelter Rescue Coordinator. “A new home would be greater than the grandest gift mentioned in the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ song. Inspired by that theme, we want to adopt out at least one animal every hour during the adopt-a-thon.”

Community members are also encouraged to drop by the shelter between 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. during the Christmas Adopt-A-Thon for pet photos with Santa. A professional photographer will be available, providing printed photos for a nominal fee, or you can use your own camera for free. Visitors are also invited to tour the shelter during the event.

“Walker County has made great strides this year toward increasing the number of live outcomes at our shelter,” said Joe Legge, Public Relations Director for Walker County. “The number of dogs adopted, sent to a rescue or returned to their owner is up about 7% compared to 2016. Our live outcomes for cats is even better, improving about 20%.”

Events like the ‘12 Hours of Christmas Adopt-A-Thon’ continue the Walker County Animal Shelter’s mission of placing adoptable animals into good, loving homes.