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THE KENSINGTON RODEO is the WQCH featured advertiser of the week.  Saturday and Sunday August 30th and 31st at Cove Arena off Hog Jowl Road, West of LaFayette.  Gates open at 6, Shows start at 8 pm!

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Our 60th year of service... 1954 - 2014.

TOP LOCAL NEWS STORIES:

*    IN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL, THE LAFAYETTE HIGH RAMBLERS OPEN THEIR SEASON ON THE ROAD, FRIDAY NIGHT.  THEY PLAY AT GORDON CENTRAL, WITH A 7:30 KICKOFF.   WQCH PRESENTS THE FIRST “LET’S TALK RAMBLER FOOTBALL” PROGRAM OF THE SEASON, FRIDAY MORNING AT 7:30… WITH HOST ANDY ARNOLD AND LHS HEAD COACH, CHAD FISHER.

*    FRIENDS OF THE LAFAYETTE-WALKER LIBRARY WILL HAVE A FUND-RAISING RUMMAGE SALE THERE, THIS FRIDAY FROM 10 ’TIL 2… AND SATURDAY FROM 9 ’TIL 3. 

*   WALKER COUNTY WILL HOLD A REFERENDUM ON SUNDAY ALCOHOL SALES.   IN THE NOVEMBER 4th ELECTION, A QUESTION WILL APPEAR ASKING VOTERS IF THEY FAVOR LEGALIZING PACKAGE AND RESTAURANT SALES OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ON SUNDAYS.   THE VOTE OUTCOME WILL BE BINDING, ACCORDING TO COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL.

*   STUDENTS AND TEACHERS ALIKE ARE GLAD TO SEE THEM GO… MOBILE UNIT CLASSROOMS WILL SOON BE LEAVING THE CAMPUSES AT LAFAYETTE MIDDLE SCHOOL, CHEROKEE RIDGE AND ROSSVILLE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.  THOSE THREE SCHOOLS NOW HAVE AMPLE CLASSROOM SPACE WITHIN THEIR PERMANENT BUILDINGS.
    AT THE WALKER BOARD OF EDUCATION PLANNING MEETING ON AUGUST 12th, THE MOBILE UNITS WERE DECLARED “SURPLUS” AND WILL BE SOLD OR MOVED TO OTHER LOCATIONS.  A FEW OF THE UNITS WILL BE RETAINED FOR STORAGE.
    A BID WAS APPROVED FOR THE INSTALLATION OF LAFAYETTE MIDDLE SCHOOL’S NEW GREENHOUSE, AT A RECENT SCHOOL BOARD MEETING.   
    ATLAS MANUFACTURING, INC. WAS THE ONLY BIDDER… AT JUST OVER 57-THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR THE PROJECT.
    THE GREENHOUSE IS PART OF A CLASSROOM AND LAB EXPANSION PROJECT FOR THE AGRICULTURE PROGRAM AT LAFAYETTE MIDDLE SCHOOL.

*   IN A CALLED MEETING TUESDAY, THE LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL APPROVED THE TAX MILLAGE RATE FOR FISCAL 2015… APPROVED A CHANGE TO A NEW EMPLOYEE INSURANCE ADMINISTRATOR… AND AMENDED PLANS FOR THE PAVING PROJECT ON FOSTER MILL DRIVE.
    ON LOCAL PROPERTY TAXES, THE COUNCIL “HELD THE LINE” AT THE CURRENT RATE OF 2.99 MILLS.   THAT RATE HASN’T CHANGED IN YEARS… BUT FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2008, THAT SAME RATE WILL BRING IN MORE MONEY.   THE DIGEST… WHICH IS THE TOTAL VALUE OF ALL PROPERTIES IN THE CITY, WENT UP BY 7.2-MILLION DOLLARS OVER THE PAST YEAR… AFTER YEARS OF DECLINE DUE TO THE RECESSION.  THAT MEANS MORE VALUE ON WHICH TO COLLECT TAX… AND WILL NET THE CITY ABOUT 21-THOUSAND DOLLAR’S MORE, THIS YEAR.   THE TOTAL ANTICIPATED PROPERTY TAX FOR THE CITY, IS JUST OVER 435-THOUSAND DOLLARS. 
    THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE IS ABLE TO KEEP PROPERTY TAXES LOW, BECAUSE MOST OF THE BUDGET IS FUNDED BY PROFIT FROM THE SALE OF UTILITIES… ELECTRICITY, GAS AND WATER.
    AS OF OCTOBER 1st, THE CITY’S SELF-FUNDED EMPLOYEE INSURANCE PLAN WILL BE BACKED BY A NEW ADMINISTRATION GROUP.   THEY’RE CHANGING FROM TAYLOR BENEFITS, TO UNITED MEDICAL RESOURCES, OR UMR… PART OF THE WELL KNOWN INSUROR, UNITED HEALTHCARE.
    CITY MANAGER DAVID HAMILTON TOLD THE COUNCIL THAT THE CHANGE WILL SAVE THE CITY 100-THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER THE NEXT YEAR.  EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE WILL STAY THE SAME… THE COVERAGE IS THE SAME… THE NETWORK WILL BE MUCH LARGER… AND THE CITY WILL SAVE MONEY.   THE COUNCIL ALSO APPROVED A CHANGE IN DENTAL, VISION AND LIFE INSURANCE, TO METLIFE… FOR FURTHER SAVINGS.
    COUNCILMAN BEN BRADFORD MADE THE FINAL MOTION OF THE NIGHT… WHICH FOLLOWED A MEETING OF THE UTILITIES COMMITTEE EARLIER IN THE DAY.  HE SAID THE AGING WATER LINE UNDER FOSTER MILL DRIVE SHOULD BE REPLACED BEFORE THE STREET IS REPAVED.   THE COST OF RUNNING THE LINE IS ESTIMATED AT 60-THOUSAND DOLLARS.   BRADFORD SAID IF THE CITY DOES THE PAVING “IN-HOUSE”, INSTEAD OF BIDDING IT OUT… THE SAVINGS SHOULD HELP COVER THE WATER LINE REPLACEMENT.   THE PLAN WAS APPROVED - AND WORK ON THE WATER LINE WILL BEGIN THIS FALL.   THAT WORK WILL DELAY THE REPAVING OF FOSTER MILL, UNTIL NEXT SPRING.

*   WALKER COUNTY GOVERNMENT HAS REACHED-OUT TO STERN’S BANK… ASKING THE COMPANY TO DONATE THEIR EMPTY BANK LOCATION AT ROCK SPRING.
    A COUNTY OFFICIAL FAMILIAR WITH THE MATTER SAID FRANKLY -  “IT’S A LONG SHOT” THAT THE MINNESOTA-BASED BANKING COMPANY WOULD CONSIDER DONATING THE BUILDING.
    NO OFFER HAS BEEN MADE BY THE COUNTY TO BUY THE BUILDING, AS SOME RUMORS HAVE SUGGESTED.
    SEVERAL OFFICES WITHIN WALKER COUNTY GOVERNMENT COULD USE THE ADDITIONAL SPACE THAT THE FORMER BANK BUILDING COULD OFFER… BUT THAT’S ONLY IF THE CORPORATE OWNER DECIDES TO DONATE THE BUILDING WITHOUT COST.
    THE ROCK SPRING STEARNS BANK LOCATION CLOSED AT THE END OF JUNE.  THE CORPORATION BOUGHT THE FAILED COVENANT BANK AND TRUST LOCATIONS IN 2012.

*   MAKE PLANS TO ATTEND THE ANNUAL “LABOR DAY WEEKEND SOCK-HOP” FOR THE WALKER COUNTY STOCKING FULL OF LOVE.  ENJOY A LIVE BAND THIS YEAR… WITH DANCING AND GOOD FOOD.  PRIZES WILL BE AWARDED FOR BEST 50’s DRESS AND BEST 50’s DANCING, PLUS A HULA HOOP CONTEST.  IT’S AT THE WALKER COUNTY CIVIC CENTER THIS SUNDAY NIGHT FROM 7-11 PM.   ADMISSION IS $3 PER PERSON OR $5 PER COUPLE… KIDS 6 AND UNDER, FREE.
    ON LABOR DAY MONDAY, COME BACK TO THE CIVIC CENTER FOR THE ANNUAL LABOR DAY CAR SHOW… WHICH ALSO BENEFITS THE STOCKING FULL OF LOVE.

*   THE WALKER COUNTY CHAMBER IS ACCEPTING NOMINATIONS FOR THE ANNUAL “CITIZEN OF THE YEAR AWARD”.   FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 1990’s, NOMINEES DO NOT HAVE TO BE MEMBERS OF THE CHAMBER TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE HONOR.   FIND NOMINATIONS FORMS AT THE CHAMBER WEBSITE… THE DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 30th.
 
*   INVESTIGATORS HAVE DETERMINED THAT LAFAYETTE RESIDENT FRANCIS MIDDLETON’S DEATH WAS DUE TO NATURAL CAUSES, FOLLOWING AN AUTOPSY PERFORMED AT THE STATE CRIME LAB.
    LAFAYETTE POLICE CAPTAIN STACEY MEEKS INFORMED THE FAMILY TUESDAY AFTERNOON - AND STATED THAT THEY WERE "RELIEVED" THAT THE DEATH WAS NOT THE RESULT OF AN ATTACK.  MS. MIDDLETON’S BODY WAS DISCOVERED ON THE FLOOR OF HER APARTMENT OFF SOUTH MAIN STREET IN LAFAYETTE, SATURDAY EVENING.   THERE WAS NO SIGN OF FORCED ENTRY.
    THE AUTOPSY REPORT NOTED THE PRESENCE OF CIRRHOSIS OF THE LIVER… ALONG WITH A RELATED SIDE-EFFECT:  ESOPHAGEAL VARICES.  THAT CAN CAUSE BLEEDING AS THE VEINS IN THE ESOPHAGUS RUPTURE.
    MEEKS SAID THAT EXPLAINS THE LARGE QUANTITY OF BLOOD FOUND IN THE APARTMENT FROM THE BEDROOM TO THE BODY’S LOCATION ON THE FLOOR NEAR THE FRONT DOOR… PLUS OVERTURNED FURNITURE AND THE VICTIM’S STATE OF PARTIAL DRESS.  A “WOUND” OBSERVED ON THE VICTIM’S CHEST WAS FOUND TO BE A DRAINAGE PORT LEFT FROM A RECENT SURGERY.
    POLICE NOW BELIEVE THAT MS. MIDDLETON WAS ALARMED BY THE BLEEDING… AND WAS ATTEMPTING TO DRESS AND MAKE IT TO THE FRONT DOOR TO SUMMON HELP… BUT BLED TO DEATH IN THE PROCESS.
    A GBI CRIME SCENE SPECIALIST REMARKED THAT HE PLANS TO USE THIS CASE AS A TRAINING TOOL FOR INVESTIGATORS, BECAUSE OF THE COMPLEXITY OF THE CRIME SCENE.   POLICE INITIALLY CONDUCTED THE INVESTIGATION AS A HOMICIDE CASE… BUT THAT POSSIBILITY HAS NOW BEEN “LAID TO REST”.

*   WALKER COUNTY’S NEWEST INDUSTRIAL NEIGHBOR SENT MEMBERS OF THEIR HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT TO VISIT OTHER INDUSTRIES IN THE LAFAYETTE AND ROCK SPRING AREA, LAST WEEK.
    DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY DIRECTOR LARRY BROOKS SAID THEY WERE SENT TO “REACH OUT” TO THEIR SOON-TO-BE INDUSTRIAL NEIGHBORS… FIRST, TO GET ACQUAINTED… AND SECOND, TO REASSURE THEM THAT AUDIA INTERNATIONAL WON’T BE TRYING TO “STEAL THEIR EMPLOYEES”.  THE EXECUTIVES WERE ALSO LOOKING AT HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE “HANDFUL” OF AUDIA EXECUTIVES THAT WILL RELOCATE TO WALKER COUNTY.
    BROOKS SAID AUDIA IS STILL DECLINING TO SAY JUST HOW MANY EMPLOYEES THEIR NEW OPERATION IN THE NOBLE BUSINESS PARK WILL BE HIRING.
    MORE EARTH-MOVING EQUIPMENT WAS BROUGHT ON-SITE LAST WEEK… AND MOST OF THE TREES AND HILLS THAT ARE NOW VISIBLE FROM U.S. 27 WILL BE TAKEN DOWN IN THE BUILDING PROCESS.  THE “VIEW” FROM THAT ANGLE, "WILL CHANGE DRAMATICALLY"… BROOKS SAID.

*   A RECENT LAFAYETTE HIGH GRADUATE HAS BEEN NAMED THE RECIPIENT OF A GOLF SCHOLARSHIP FOR HIS COLLEGE CAREER.
    KURT INGRAM RECEIVED THE CHECK AWARDED FROM THE “JAMES E. JACKSON GOLF SCHOLARSHIP”.   MAKING THE PRESENTATION WAS LAFAYETTE GOLF COURSE PRO, EDDIE JACKSON. 
    KURT WILL PLAY GOLF FOR TRUETT-MCCONNELL COLLEGE.

*   THE LAFAYETTE HIGH CLASS OF 1974 IS PLANNING THEIR 40-YEAR REUNION.  IT WILL BE HELD AT THE MOUNTAIN COVE FARMS SHOWBARN ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 6th, STARTING AT 4 PM. 

*     UNEMPLOYMENT NUMBERS ARE OUT FOR NORTHWEST GEORGIA COUNTIES… AND THREE OF OUR NEIGHBORS ARE UP IN THE DOUBLE-DIGIT RANGE AGAIN:
    CHATTOOGA, WHITFIELD AND MURRAY COUNTIES ALL HAVE UNEMPLOYMENT ABOVE 10-PERCENT FOR JULY… ACCORDING TO THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR.
    ALL AREA COUNTIES HAD AN INCREASE IN UNEMPLOYMENT FROM JUNE TO JULY.   HERE IN WALKER COUNTY, THE RATE CLIMBED A FULL PERCENTAGE POINT FROM 6.9 TO 7.9 PERCENT.  IN HUMAN TERMS, THAT’S 348 MORE PEOPLE UNEMPLOYED OVER THE MONTH, IN WALKER COUNTY.
    CATOOSA COUNTY CLIMBED FROM 6 TO 6.7 PERCENT.
    CHATTOOGA WAS UP FROM 8.9 TO 10.6 PERCENT.
    DADE WAS UP FROM 7.5 TO 7.9
    AND WHITFIELD COUNTY’S UNEMPLOYMENT ROSE FROM 9.2 IN JUNE TO 10.4 PERCENT IN JULY… THAT’S THE BIGGEST PERCENTAGE INCREASE AMONG AREA COUNTIES, AT PLUS 1.2 PERCENT.
    THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR REPORTS THAT THE JULY RATE INCREASE WAS PRIMARILY DUE TO SEASONAL FACTORS SUCH AS TEMPORARY LAYOFFS IN EDUCATIONAL SERVICES AND MANUFACTURING… BUT MOST OF THE LAID-OFF WORKERS HAVE RETURNED TO THEIR JOBS.

*   WALKER COUNTY COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL RELEASED MORE DETAILS ON AN UPCOMING TAX INCREASE, THURSDAY.
    THE ACTUAL RATE FOR COUNTY PROPERTY OWNERS WILL GO UP FROM THE PRESENT 4.705 MILLS, TO 7.938 MILLS… AN INCREASE OF 3.233 MILLS.
    THOSE WHO LIVE IN THE COUNTY’S FOUR CITIES WILL HAVE A SLIGHTLY HIGHER INCREASE, DUE TO THE INSURANCE PREMIUM ROLL-BACK ENJOYED IN THE UNINCORPORATED AREA.  CITY DWELLERS’ TAX RATE WILL CLIMB TO 10.57 MILLS.
    THE COMMISSIONER EMPHASIZED THAT TAX BILLS WILL ACTUALLY BE UP BY A NET OF ABOUT 14-PERCENT… SINCE ONLY THE PORTION FOR THE OPERATION OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT IS GOING UP.   TAXES FOR THE SCHOOL SYSTEM WILL STAY AT THE CURRENT RATE.
    ON A PROPERTY VALUED AT 100-THOUSAND DOLLARS… THE INCREASE IN THE TAX BILL WILL AVERAGE AROUND 120-DOLLARS.   THE AVERAGE HOME IN WALKER COUNTY IS VALUED AT 88-THOUSAND.
    HEISKELL ALSO REVEALED MORE REASONS WHY A TAX INCREASE IS NECESSARY:
    THE WALKER COUNTY TAX OFFICE IS CURRENTLY UNDER A CONSENT ORDER FROM THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE.  THAT ORDER MANDATES THAT THE OFFICE MUST HIRE FOUR MORE APPRAISERS WITH NEEDED OFFICE SPACE… OR PAY A PENALTY OF $500 PER DAY.
    THE WALKER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE MUST INCREASE BUDGET TO HIRE ADDITIONAL OFFICERS, IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN AN “ADEQUATE LEVEL OF SERVICES”.  
    WALKER COUNTY’S JUVENILE COURT HAS NEW AND COSTLY MANDATES THAT MUST BE MET WITH LOCAL FUNDING.   
    AND WITH AN AGING WORK FORCE, THE COUNTY’S PENSION PLAN HAS BECOME MORE EXPENSIVE.  HEISKELL SAID THAT IS BEING TRANSITIONED TO A MORE ECONOMICAL PLAN.   SHE ADDED THAT THE PENSION PLAN AND HEALTH BENEFITS FOR COUNTY EMPLOYEES NOW TOTAL MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS PER YEAR.
    “IT GRIEVES ME TO FIND IT NECESSARY TO INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES”, HEISKELL SAID… “BUT OUR BACKS ARE AGAINST THE WALL”.

*   THE WALKER COUNTY FAIR WELCOMES VENDORS FOR THE BIG EVENT… COMING TO MOUNTAIN COVE FARMS, SEPTEMBER 12-14.
    FOR INFORMATION AND VENDOR PACKETS, CALL JOAN FOWLER AT
423 443 5465.  THE DEADLINE IS SEPTEMBER 1st.


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