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TOP LOCAL NEWS STORIES:

*   EVERY NIGHT FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS… LOCAL FAMILIES CAN ENJOY FREE ATTRACTIONS IN LAFAYETTE:   THE “AMAZING CHRISTMAS” LIGHT AND MUSIC SHOWS AT JOE STOCK PARK RUN FROM 6 - 10 PM NIGHTLY… AND THE FREE MODEL TRAIN CHRISTMAS EXHIBIT INSIDE JOHN B. GORDON HALL IS OPEN FROM 6 - 9 PM.

*   THE LAFAYETTE-WALKER LIBRARY WILL HOST AN EIGHT-PANEL PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION FROM ATLANTA’S MICHAEL C. CARLOS MUSEUM, STARTING TODAY.
    IT HIGHLIGHTS 15 TREASURES FROM THE MUSEUM’S COLLECTIONS OF ART FROM EGYPT, THE NEAR EAST, GREECE, ROME, AFRICA, THE AMERICAS AND ASIA.
    THE PHOTO EXHIBITION WILL BE AT THE LIBRARY FROM DECEMBER 16th THROUGH JANUARY 5th… AT 305 SOUTH DUKE STREET IN LAFAYETTE.

*    CHRISTMAS CANDLELIGHT TOURS OF THE MARSH HOUSE IN LAFAYETTE WILL BE HELD THIS SATURDAY AND SUNDAY FROM 6 - 8 PM.  THE THEME IS “CHRISTMAS 1900 AT THE MARSH HOUSE”.  ADMISSION IS $5 PER PERSON.

*   A LAFAYETTE POLICE DETECTIVE REQUIRED MEDICAL ATTENTION FOLLOWING THE ARREST OF A MAN WHO WAS WANTED ON DRUG AND THEFT CHARGES.
    POLICE WERE INVESTIGATING A THEFT THAT OCCURRED EARLIER THIS MONTH WHEN THEY WERE NOTIFIED THAT THEIR SUSPECT HAD JUST LEFT ON HIS BICYCLE.   THEY SPOTTED 32 YEAR OLD CHRISTOPHER B. DENTON ON HIS BIKE AND MADE THE ARREST AT THE INTERSECTION OF NORTH STEELE AND CHATTANOOGA STREETS.
    DENTON TRIED TO FLEE, BUT WAS TAKEN TO THE GROUND.   HE CONTINUED TO RESIST… AND DETECTIVE BILLY MULLIS CAME AWAY WITH AN INJURED HAND.
    A BAGGIE OF METH WAS FOUND ON THE SUSPECT, ALONG WITH A STOLEN I-PAD, WHICH WAS RETURNED TO THE OWNER.
    DENTON WAS CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF METH, THEFT BY RECEIVING AND OBSTRUCTION… IN ADDITION TO THE OUTSTANDING WARRANTS.

*   A CAR THAT WAS STOLEN IN SUMMERVILLE LAST WEEK, TURNED UP IN A WALKER COUNTY ACCIDENT.
    WHEN CONTACTED, THE OWNER SAID SHE HAD GIVEN NO ONE PERMISSION TO DRIVE HER CAR.   SHE HAD DRIVEN IT THE DAY BEFORE AND LEFT THE KEYS IN THE IGNITION WHEN SHE PARKED IT IN HER DRIVEWAY.  THE THEFT IS STILL UNDER INVESTIGATION.

*   THE DRUG TASK FORCE MADE THREE ARRESTS IN WALKER COUNTY ON WEDNESDAY…
    OFFICERS HAPPENED UPON A SUSPECT WITH OUTSTANDING WARRANTS… ON HAPPY VALLEY ROAD NORTH OF RIDGELAND HIGH SCHOOL.  36 YEAR OLD WESLEY CECIL SPARKS HAD SEVERAL BAGS OF METH PACKAGED FOR RESALE AND NUMEROUS PILLS.  HE WAS CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF METH WITH INTENT TO DISTRIBUTE AND POSSESSION OF A FIREARM BY A CONVICTED FELON.  THE PILLS ARE STILL BEING IDENTIFIED.
    48 YEAR OLD DENNIS WILLIAM BRYSON WAS ARRESTED ON EAST SHERRY DRIVE IN ROSSVILLE AND CHARGED WITH POSSESSION OF METH.
    AND IN LAFAYETTE… COMPLAINTS LED TO THE ARREST OF 41 YEAR OLD CHIP CHRISTOPHER BROOM AT THE APARTMENTS, LOCATED AT 307 SOUTH MAIN.   HE WAS FOUND WITH A PIPE CONTAINING METH RESIDUE… AND CHARGED WITH POSSESSION.

*   COMMISSIONER SHANNON WHITFIELD CONFIRMED THAT THE COUNTY’S EMPLOYEE MEDICAL CLINIC WILL CLOSE AT THE END OF THIS MONTH… BUT HE WASN’T READY TO NAME THE COUNTY’S NEW SERVICE PROVIDER.
    FOUR DAYS EARLIER, THE LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL NAMED CHI-MEMORIAL AS THEIR NEW EMPLOYEE CLINIC PROVIDER… AND THEY HAD PREVIOUSLY PARTNERED WITH THE COUNTY IN THE EMPLOYEE CLINIC LOCATED IN THE NORTH END OF THE COMMISSIONER’S OFFICE IN LAFAYETTE.
    WHITFIELD SAID THE NEW PROVIDER FOR COUNTY EMPLOYEES WILL BE NAMED AS SOON AS A FEW MORE DETAILS HAVE BEEN WORKED OUT.  IT’S LIKELY THE COUNTY WITH GO WITH CHI-MEMORIAL AS WELL.   THAT WILL GIVE EMPLOYEES OF BOTH THE COUNTY AND THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE ACCESS TO MEDICAL SERVICES AT THE MEMORIAL CLINICS IN LAFAYETTE AND CHICKAMAUGA… WITH MORE HOURS AND MORE SERVICES AVAILABLE THAN THE COUNTY CLINIC WAS ABLE TO PROVIDE.

*   A FORMER FAILING RESTAURANT SCORE HAS BEEN CORRECTED, ACCORDING TO THE WALKER ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICE.
    THE STATION HOUSE ON CHATTANOOGA STREET IN LAFAYETTE BROUGHT THEIR “UNACCEPTABLE” SCORE FROM NOVEMBER 30th… ALL THE WAY UP TO AN “A” THIS WEEK.   THEIR NEW SCORE FROM A THURSDAY INSPECTION, WAS 96.

*   HAYS STATE PRISON RECENTLY FIRED TWO EMPLOYEES, ACCORDING TO WARRANTS.
    48 YEAR OLD KEITHA MICHELE VAUGHAN WAS CANNED AFTER SHE ADMITTED HAVING SEX WITH A 23-YEAR OLD INMATE SHE WAS SUPERVISING.
    AND 40 YEAR OLD LUIS VEGA DIEGO WAS ARRESTED AFTER BEING ACCUSED OF SMUGGLING ILLEGAL DRUGS AND TOBACCO INTO THE PRISON.  HE WAS ALSO FOUND IN POSSESSION OF A 9 MM HANDGUN INSIDE THE GUARD LINE, WITHOUT PERMISSION.

*   WALKER COUNTY PROPERTY OWNERS HAVE LESS THAN A WEEK TO PAY THE ANNUAL TAX BILL WITHOUT PENALTY.   TAXES ARE DUE WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20th.
    AFTER THE DUE DATE, INTEREST ACCRUES AT ONE-PERCENT PER MONTH… AND A PENALTY OF 10-PERCENT WILL APPLY TO ALL TAXES THAT ARE NOT PAID WITHIN 90 DAYS OF THE DEADLINE.   THERE IS ONE EXCEPTION:   HOMESTEADED PROPERTY WITH A TAX BILL OF LESS THAN $500 DOES NOT RECEIVE THE 90-DAY PENALTY.
    YOU MIGHT BE ELIGIBLE TO REDUCE YOUR TAX BILL THROUGH EXEMPTIONS:  THE MOST COMMON ARE THE HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR REAL ESTATE… AND THERE’S THE FREEPORT EXEMPTION FOR BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY.  CONTACT THE TAX OFFICE AT ROCK SPRING FOR DETAILS.

*   THE WALKER COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM IS GETTING READY TO MAKE TWO BIG MOVES… INVOLVING THE CENTRAL OFFICE AND THE TRANSPORTATION FACILITY.
    FACILITIES MANAGER CHRIS JONES SAID THE BUS BARN WILL BE FIRST.  THE SCHOOL BOARD RECENTLY APPROVED THE CONTRACT TO BUILD THE NEW FACILITY ON OPEN LAND ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE A.E.C - THE FORMER OSBURN SCHOOL AT CHICKAMAUGA.  J & J CONSTRUCTION WON THE BID AT 2.95-MILLION DOLLARS TO BUILD THE NEW BUS SERVICING FACILITY.  JONES SAID CONSTRUCTION COULD BEGIN WITHIN THE NEXT TWO WEEKS.
    HE ADDED THAT THE OLD BUS SERVICE FACILITY WAS “TOO SMALL FOR THEIR FLEET”… AND IS LANDLOCKED WITH NO ROOM TO EXPAND.   IT’S LOCATED ACROSS FROM SHAW’S S.I. PLANT ON HIGHWAY 27.
    THE NEW CENTRAL OFFICE, TO BE LOCATED IN THE OLD LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL BUILDINGS, IS A LITTLE FARTHER AWAY.   JONES SAID CONSTRUCTION THERE COULD BEGIN IN THE SPRING.   HE SPENT MONDAY WITH ARCHITECTS ON THE PROJECT, FINALIZING PLANS FOR THE LAYOUT OF THE CENTRAL OFFICE… WHICH WILL BE MOVED FROM THE PRESENT LOCATION NEXT TO THE COURTHOUSE ON DUKE STREET.  THE NEXT STEP IN THAT PROCESS WILL BE AN ARCHITECT’S ESTIMATE OF THE COST AND TIME-LINE OF REBUILDING THE OLD HIGH SCHOOL.   “PEOPLE IN LAFAYETTE HAVE A SENTIMENTAL ATTACHMENT TO THE BUILDINGS… AND WE’RE DOING OUR BEST TO PRESERVE AND USE THEM”, JONES SAID.

*   THE LOCAL “PRIDE” INITIATIVE CONTINUES TO CLEAN UP CITY OF LAFAYETTE RESIDENTIAL EYESORES.
    IN A REPORT TO THE CITY COUNCIL THIS WEEK, IT WAS NOTED THAT 9 MORE BLIGHTED PROPERTIES HAVE BEEN CLEARED IN THE PAST MONTH.  A TOTAL OF 53 PROPERTIES ARE STILL SOMEWHERE IN THE ABATEMENT PROCESS… AND LAFAYETTE IS ABOUT TO BEGIN ENFORCING THE NEWLY-UPDATED “JUNK MOTOR VEHICLE” ORDINANCE.

*   THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO APPROVE THE REQUIRED ZONING CHANGE THAT WOULD ALLOW A LOCAL INDUSTRY TO PURCHASE THE FORMER K-MART BUILDING.   THE SALE AGREEMENT WAS ANNOUNCED LAST WEEK BY THE WALKER COUNTY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY… BUT WQCH NEWS HAS LEARNED THAT THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE’S LEGAL COUNCIL BELIEVES A REZONE OF THE COMMERCIAL K-MART PROPERTY TO INDUSTRIAL, FOR THE PROPOSED BUYER… COULD CONSTITUTE A “SPOT ZONE”.  SPOT ZONING IS DEFINED AS PLACING OF A SMALL AREA OF LAND IN A DIFFERENT ZONE FROM THAT OF NEIGHBORING PROPERTY.
    A SOURCE SAID THAT THE COUNCIL WOULD DISCUSS THE PROBLEM DURING LAST NIGHT’S EXECUTIVE SESSION OF THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL, WHICH IS NOT OPEN TO THE MEDIA.   THE MATTER WILL MOST LIKELY BE SENT TO THE CITY’S ZONING COMMISSION FOR THEIR RECOMMENDATION… THEN COME BACK TO THE CITY COUNCIL FOR A VOTE IN A FUTURE PUBLIC MEETING.
    SYNTEC INDUSTRIES… WHICH ALREADY OPERATES A LARGE MANUFACTURING PLANT ON PROBASCO STREET… HAS EXPRESSED AN INTEREST IN BUYING THE FORMER K-MART FOR WAREHOUSING AND LATER, FOR MORE PRODUCTION SPACE.   WE WILL BE FOLLOWING THIS STORY WITH UPDATES AS THEY ARE AVAILABLE.

*    IF YOU’RE WONDERING ABOUT THE WALKER COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM’S CHRISTMAS BREAK… IT’S 2-1/2 WEEKS THIS YEAR.   HERE ARE THE DATES:
    SCHOOLS WILL BE CLOSED FROM WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20th THROUGH THE WEEK ENDING FRIDAY, JANUARY 5th.   CLASSES WILL RESUME ON MONDAY, JANUARY 8th.

*   OVER 16-THOUSAND PAGES OF HISTORY RECORDED IN THE “WALKER COUNTY MESSENGER”… FROM 1880 THROUGH 1924… ARE NOW ACCESSIBLE THROUGH THE GEORGIA HISTORIC NEWSPAPERS WEBSITE… ACCORDING TO A RELEASE FROM THE CHEROKEE REGIONAL LIBRARY.
    SYSTEM DIRECTOR LECIA EUBANKS SAID “THE SIGNIFICANCE OF OUR LOCAL NEWSPAPER BEING AVAILABLE FOR FULL-TEXT SEARCHING AND BROWSING BY ANYONE WITH ACCESS TO THE INTERNET CAN’T BE OVERSTATED”.
    THE PAPER CAN BE BROWSED AT THE LIBRARY… OR ONLINE HERE.

*   LAFAYETTE’S “AMAZING CHRISTMAS” LIGHT AND MUSIC SHOWS ARE NOW UNDERWAY AT JOE STOCK PARK.  THE FREE ANIMATED LIGHT SHOWS WILL RUN FROM 6 UNTIL 10 PM EACH EVENING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS.


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