Oral Rabies Vaccination Bait Drops Occuring in Walker County

Chattanooga, TN – Over the next several days, you may notice a helicopter flying in a pattern over Walker County.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is dropping oral rabies vaccination baits across our community and others, in an effort to protect people and pets — by preventing rabies in wildlife.  

Operating out of the Chattanooga Airport, USDA teams are currently targeting urban and suburban areas in Walker, Catoosa, Hamilton and Bradley counties.  They stock each helicopter with bait to toss into wooded areas while airborne. The baits are about the size of a ketchup packet and are coated with fishmeal.  

USDA distributes more than 10 million baits across 17 states every year.  This year, 1,270,000 baits will be dropped across Walker and surrounding counties.

Walker County sits right in the middle of the bait zone, which means after the USDA makes bait drops by helicopter to the northern end, (PIC) they will return in a couple of weeks to spread baits across the southern end using a fixed wing plane.


While not harmful for pets, officials say you should leave these baits alone unless found in areas where children play.

Because of efforts like this, there hasn’t been a positive animal rabies case in Walker County since 2014.  


High Fire Danger Could Impact Open Burning Season

LaFayette, GA – With the arrival of October, Georgia’s seasonal burn ban, which impacts Walker and 53 other counties, comes to a close.  While burning is allowed from October 1st through April 30th, residents need to obtain a permit and be aware of what is legal and illegal to burn.

Fire Inspector Jeff Roerdink with Walker County Fire Rescue says “the things that you can burn right now are pretty much going to be natural vegetation. Which means, if you had a tree fall down on your property you can burn those limbs, you can burn those leaves.”

Burning construction materials, like treated lumber or shingles, is prohibited… as well as tires, plastics and household garbage.  “Garbage is a definite no go,” says Roerdink.  “There are a lot of chemicals in the trash we generally throw out, like plastic bottles, that would put off gases and smoke into the atmosphere that is harmful for people to breath.”

There is no cost to obtain a permit from the Georgia Forestry Commission. Simply visit GaTrees.org or call 1-877-OK-2-BURN. Permits are good for one day, from 8:00 a.m. to sundown. If caught burning without a permit, you could be fined.

This year, due to drought conditions, Georgia Forestry will be issuing permits on a day to day basis in an effort to prevent wildfires.  The decision to burn will be based on the weather and permits may be restricted due to the fire danger forecast.

“There’s a five step fire danger system used nationally, and right now Georgia is in the four to five categories, indicating very high fire danger,” said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells.

When you do burn, Roerdink suggests taking a few precautions to keep your burn pile from getting away from you.  “Keep it down to a small pile. And keep a 25 foot clearance around that area so if you are burning, it’s not going to get away from you. Make sure it’s down to the soil, bare dirt.”

You should also keep water and a shovel close by and never leave your fire unattended.

For additional information about open burning, permitting requirements and fire conditions, visit GaTrees.org.


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.


Walker County Partners with SirenGPS for Community Notification System

LaFayette, GA – Walker County has a new and improved method for the public to receive emergency and community notifications.  The SirenGPS app can send push notifications to smartphones in a matter of seconds, keeping residents alerted to bad weather and other community concerns or interests.

“While our primary use of this notification system will be for emergency situations, we also have the capability to geofence or draw a map around a certain area that will only notify folks in that area of things like a water outage, power outage or road closure,” said Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Blake Hodge.

SirenGPS will only send residents who sign-up for the free service one alert, so if they receive the push notification from the app, the system will check them off as being notified.  60 seconds later, SirenGPS will send out text messages to those who still need to be notified.  60 seconds after that, anyone still in need of an alert will get a phone call.

Chief Hodge added, “We’re concentrating on trying to limit landline usage because our infrastructure can cause a delay of more than an hour if everyone in the county were to receive a phone call.  So this new delivery, with an app push notification, is going to be key to the success of this notification system.”

SirenGPS immediately replaces Walker County’s Hyper-Reach notification system.  Residents are urged to download the free SirenGPS app, which is available for Apple and Android devices.  Those who do not have a smartphone and wish to receive a text or phone call should contact Tina in the Walker County Commissioner’s Office at 706-638-1437 or register online secure.sirengps.com//register.


How Walker Works – Walker County Landfill


Along with household garbage and waste from construction and demolition sites, the Walker County Landfill accepts brush, tires, paper/plastic and other recyclable materials and metals.

Landfill Manager Paine Gily explained, “When they come to the scalehouse our scalehouse operators are going to ask the customer what are you bringing in? What do you have that you would like to dispose? And then based on what they tell our scalehouse operator, they will route them to the proper disposal area. And it’s just important that we not mix waste streams.”

Proper separation protects human health and the environment, and keeps materials that can be reused from taking up space in the landfill. It’s also necessary because some of the material brought to the landfill no longer stays on site.  Gily said, “At the transfer station, we will take the household waste and that’s food containers, food scraps, anything for consumption that has been thrown away… food wrappings, bottles, that type of thing. The type of stuff that you would generate in your kitchen or bathroom or living room and set out on the curb for the waste disposal service to pick up. We load that into tractor trailers and then those tractor trailers are taken to a large municipal solid waste landfill in north Alabama.”

The Walker County Landfill stopped storing household waste on site in 1998, but continues to isolate construction and demolition materials at this location. “And that involves bricks, wood, wall board, tile, ceramics, things like that,” added Gily.

And because it’s the law, residents are reminded to make sure items being brought to the landfill are property secured during transport. “Please tarp your loads, so that waste doesn’t blow off onto the roadsides on the way to the landfill,” urged Gily.

The Walker County Landfill is located at 5120 North Marble Top Road, near the Animal Shelter.  It’s open 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except on major holidays. Cash, check, debit and credit cards are accepted as forms of payment.


“How Walker Works” Informational Video Segments Debut

LaFayette, GA – Walker County Government announces the roll out of a new informational web-based video series entitled How Walker Works.

“These short-form segments will provide residents and visitors with 24/7 access to some basic information about how departments operate in Walker County,” said Joe Legge, Public Relations Director for Walker County Government. “Some government functions are highly visible, while others are seldom seen, but provide a valuable service that improves the quality of life in Walker County.”

Each video segment will run about a minute and will cover a different topic.  How Walker Works segments will be available on demand at walkercountyga.gov and posted weekly on the county’s social media sites, including Facebook and Youtube.

The following features are currently in the works:

How Walker Works launched with a segment on the Tax Commissioner’s Office.  New features will be released online.