Walker County Newsletter  Issue 7
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An update on Walker County's finances

A called meeting will be held on Thursday, October 5th to consider the fiscal 2018 budget. The meeting will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Walker County Commissioner's Office, located at 101 S Duke Street in LaFayette. Once complete, a copy of the budget will be posted online on the county's website in the Budgets & Financials section.

Since taking office January 1st, Commissioner Shannon Whitfield has reduced personnel expenses by over $1.2 million, moved the county landfill toward profitability and ended the practice of offering employee benefits to ineligible individuals.
Ironman brings Sports Tourism
 to Walker County
Ironman events returned to Walker County this month, including the Ironman 70.3 World Championship showcase event. 91 countries, regions and territories were represented by the 4,500 competitors taking part in the two day race. Nearly three times that many visitors came to the area to experience the event.

This was the first time in four years the Ironman 70.3 World Championship had been on U.S. soil, although several qualifiers have taken place here. Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield welcomed the triathletes to Walker County, providing them with a brief overview of what they could expect along the 56-mile bike course.

Cyclists entered the county on Red Riding Hood Trail, near Rock City Gardens, turned left onto Lula Lake Road, road about 15 miles and then cut over to Highway 341, via Lookout Mountain Scenic Highway/Highway 136.

The route took cyclists through downtown Chickamauga, past Gordon Lee Mansion and Coke Ovens. Triathletes then ventured up Highway 341, before turning right onto Highway 193 and heading back into Chattanooga.

The event provided great exposure for Walker County, considering competitors came from hundreds of miles away. 279 made the trek from California, 264 from Canada, 232 from Austrailia, 213 from the United Kingdom and 151 from Florida. This competition will also be broadcast on television later this year, giving others the opportunity to soak in the stunning scenery of Walker County.

From a direct economic standpoint, it's unclear just how much Walker County benefits financially from Ironman events. The last study done by UTC on the economic impact of Ironman lumped Walker County together with Chattanooga and Hamilton County, providing no individual breakdown.

All emergency personnel expenses are reimbursed, the Ironman Foundation gave the county's disaster assistance group (COAD) a $2,000 grant and the nearly dozen or so school and community groups that volunteer receive between $200 and $1,000 for their organizations. Bookings at Mountain Cove Farms also receive a boost during Ironman events.

The five-year contract with Ironman runs through 2018, with the potential to extend. The next regional event takes place May 20, 2018.
The impact of Irma
As Hurricane Irma approached our region, five public shelters opened in Walker County for those in need of a safe place to wait out the storm.

Ten people stayed overnight at the shelter at the Civic Center, set up by Walker County CERT (Community Emergency Response Team).

While there was no major damage, Public Works Crews did encounter a good amount of tree debris in need of clean up. While some roads were down to one lane, all remained passable.

Prior to the storm arriving in our region, Commissioner Whitfield made arrangements to extend some county resources to help folks in Florida, southern Georgia and the Carolinas. 
Walker County opened the horse barn and offered RV slots at Mountain Cove Farms Resort to those fleeing the storm. The Cove prepared to house nearly ten horses, but gas shortages hampered the trip for many of those traveling north. A family from Brooksville, Florida made the trek and boarded their two horses. Donations were made to cover boarding and feed expenses..
Did you know there are over 500 farms in operation in Walker County, covering over 79,000 acres? Those farms produce over $88 million worth of crops and commodities for our local economy. This Saturday, you'll have a chance to see some of our future farmers in action, as area students compete in sheep, goat, rabbit and poultry shows at the Walker County Ag Festival.

This free community event runs from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 30th and also features canning, quilting, beekeeping and wildflower arrangement demonstrations, along with music. Bring some cash with you so the youngsters can play in the inflatables and you can shop the various food and arts and crafts vendors.

If you act fast, you'll also have the opportunity to win bragging rights in the blue ribbon contests for baking, canning, fruits and vegetables, flowers, ag art, ag photography and other categories. Entries must be dropped off at the Ag Center on the Walker County Civic Center campus between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Friday, September 29th.
Walker County Profile: A Mission to Clean Up

Hundreds of students from across the southeast have the ultimate story to tell about how they spent their summer. They joined forces with P52, a local faith-based service organization, to improve the lives of Walker County residents. Watch the video to see their work in action.
Walker County Profile: A Mission to Clean Up
TSPLOST will be on the ballot for all Walker County residents to vote on this fall. The proposed penny sales tax increase would last five years, beginning April 1, 2018 and endnig on March 31, 2023. TSPLOST would generate about $3 million a year.
  • Walker County would get 75% or $2.25 million
  • LaFayette would get 11.67% or $350,100
  • Rossville would get 6.3% or $189,000
  • Chickamauga would get 3.77% or $113,100
  • Lookout Mountain would get 2.87% or $86,100
  • Fort O would get 0.39% or $11,700
Important Election Dates:
October 10th - Last day to register to vote
October 16th - Early voting begins
November 7th - Election Day
Save these dates:
The seasonal burn ban will be lifted on Sunday, October 1st, but you will still need a permit in order to burn brush, leaves and other debris. You can only use cardboard as a starter. Burning household garbage is ALWAYS illegal. Call 1-877-OK2-BURN (1-877-652-2876) to obtain a permit.
The next Wally's transport for Walker County residents in need of low cost spay/neuter services happens on October 9th. You must call 423-877-9966 for an appointment. The van arrives at the Ag Center on the Walker County Civic Center campus at 6:30 a.m. and returns the next day at 8:15 a.m.
The inaugural Forever Bluegrass Fall Festival takes place at Mountain Cove Farms Resort November 2-4. Tickets are discounted if purchased by October 14. Lonesome River Band, David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition, plus a dozen other artists are scheduled to perform!
Walker County has an asset no other community in Georgia can claim. Larry Brooks, Walker County Development Authority Executive Director, recently became the first professional to be certified in economic development by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Brooks received recognition over the weekend for completing 60 hours of rigorous training in financing for economic development projects, tax incentives, workforce development and other components necessary to recruit business. The training is already proving valuable, as several large scale employers have expressed interest recently in locating in Walker County.
Coming next issue: The chance to join our team of life savers
Copyright © 2017 Walker County Commissioner's Office, All rights reserved.

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