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.

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How Walker Works – Probate Court

Located on the lower level of the Walker County Courthouse in LaFayette, you’ll find Probate Court, the administrator of many family matters.

Probate Court handles marriage and weapons carry licenses, fireworks permits, guardianship for children and adults, wills, estates and mental health hospitalizations, among other duties.

Marriage and weapons carry licenses make of the bulk of requests handled by this court. Judge Christy Anderson said, “If they’re going to get a weapons carry permit, when they come in for the first time, or if you’ve allowed your permit to expire more than 30 days, then when you come in you will need your driver’s license that has your current physical address on it and then you will need $79.75 cash.”

You also need your driver’s license and 66-dollars in cash to obtain a marriage license. “The law says that no prior marriage may be presumed, so therefore when you come in for a marriage license and you’ve had a prior marriage or two or three, you must have the final decree that is signed by the judge for the divorce from every marriage prior,” said Anderson.

Both licenses require an in person office visit. “We have to put all the information in and print it. We don’t even have an application out there to hand you. It’s all generated once we put your information in and then printed,” Anderson added.

When it comes to wills and estate planning, Anderson knows the topic makes many people uneasy, but she carries the mantra taught to her by the longtime Probate Court Judge W.L. Abney. “If you own a pen, please have a will telling me who you want that to go to, because anything you own is yours and my job is to make sure I grant your wishes of who you want that to go to. So, if nothing else, just please have a will. And if you don’t have the money for an attorney to draw-up a will, that’s fine. Our wills are public record. Come down and get a copy of one. Look at it and see if that is what you like and go by it.”

The court’s offices can be reached by calling 706-638-2852.  Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to Noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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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.

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How Walker Works – Free Smoke Alarm Program

While most people associate Walker County Fire Rescue with fighting fires and emergency response, the department also actively works to prevent fires.  Regina Dorsey, Life & Fire Safety Educator said, “Because we want to save lives. That’s just the bottom line. We want to save property, but we want to save lives.”

Along with visits to schools and community events, building inspections and safety training for local businesses, this County department also offers a free smoke alarm program.  “We’re going to go out to your home. We’re going to do a home safety survey and we’re going to make sure you don’t have any hazards in your house and we’ll put up the smoke alarms that they need. It’s just that easy,” said Dorsey.

Smoke alarms are given out and installed for free.  There are no income restrictions.  You just have to make the call to receive a potentially life saving device.  Dorsey said, “If you need them, we will come install ours. If you have them, can afford to buy them and you have them, we’ll come install them for you. If you don’t need to climb on a ladder because you’re elderly, we’ll do that for you.”

In 2018, Walker County Fire Rescue worked 89 building fires.  Tragically, two of those incidents resulted in fatalities and fire investigators did not find working smoke alarms in those homes.  Dorsey added, “The ones we have are good for 10 years, they have a sealed battery. You don’t have to change the battery. All you have to do is push the button once a month and test them and make sure they are working. If your smoke alarms aren’t working, you may as well not have them.”

Walker County firefighters installed 228 smoke alarms in 2018.  If you need one, make the call, make the call — dial 706-539-1255.  The life you save may be your own.

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How Walker Works – Development Authority

Since the 1960’s, the Walker County Development Authority has worked to recruit and retain business and industry in our community.  Robert Wardlaw, Economic & Community Development Director sums it up like this, “We turn dirt into jobs, that is our mission… and jobs help families.”

The Development Authority consists of six members: one from LaFayette, one from Chickamauga, one from Rossville, one from the county and two at-large members.  While represented by the cities and county, the authority operates independently, as established by the state of Georgia.

Serving as the first point of contact, the Development Authority connects a prospective industry with available buildings and land, workforce data, permitting agencies and other community information.  “Property that would be owned by the Development Authority would certainly be marketable to prospective new businesses and also private landowners would contact us and ask us to put their property that would be suitable for industrial development into our database/inventory of available property,” explained Wardlaw.

The Development Authority is also the only entity in Walker County that can offer incentives, such as tax abatements, bond financing or free land, among other considerations.  Wardlaw said, “All of these things are carefully weighed to their appropriateness through what value is the prospective industry going to bring to the citizens of the county.”

The Development Authority holds public meetings on the second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. at the Walker County Civic Center.

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How Walker Works – Zoning

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Walker County first adopted land development regulations in the early 1980’s to establish standards and procedures for development and to foster safe and orderly growth in the county.  The planning office handle any rezones, variances, subdivision plats and building permits.

Every parcel of land in Walker County has been given a zoning designation, classifying how the property can be used. There are ten different types of zones in Walker County.  “R1 is your most restricted residential zoning. No businesses, no mobile homes are allowed and it’s only single family. No multi-family allowed,” said Kristy Parker, Planner.

R1, R2, R3 and RA cover residential.  There is also A1 for agriculture, C1 for commercial, CN for commercial neighborhood like a hair salon or convenience store, I1 for industrial, PUD for planned unit developments such as Fieldstone Farms, and CBOD or the Chickamauga Battlefield Overlay District.

Property can be rezoned by filing an application at the Planning Office, receiving approval from the Planning Commission and approval from the County Commissioner.