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Walker County Newsletter  Issue 3
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Codes, QRVs & Community Involvement!
You may have seen Walker County in the news a lot in March and early April. Our tracking data shows over 50 stories appeared in print, on air and online from traditional media outlets. You need not worry about whether you missed any of the latest information. The Walker County Newsletter provides updates on ongoing initiatives, items of interest and upcoming events.

This issue includes information on our Codes Enforcement efforts, Quick Response Vehicles at our fire stations and several community events. If there's something you'd like to see included, send us an e-mail. If you have friends that would like their own copy, ask them to opt in here.

Enforcing Our Codes

Walker County Codes Enforcement Officers started a targeted campaign this month to address out of compliance properties and make the public more aware of several commonly violated codes, which have been on the books for years.

Over the first three months of 2017, with only one Codes Enforcement Officer, Walker County investigated 114 cases, an increase of 128% over the same period last year. 79% of these cases deal with junk, junk cars, household garbage and dilapidated structures. Most of this was done with just one Codes Enforcement Officer on the street.

As of April 1st, there are now three full-time Codes Enforcement Officers making rounds, along with a new Director of Codes, Inspections, Planning and Animal Control. During the first two weeks of this month, officers worked 96 cases. In 2016, this department investigated only 15 cases the entire month of April.
 
The northwest end of Walker County is the first location to be addressed. This zone covers the area between Old Chattanooga Valley Road and McFarland Avenue, from the state line south to Highway 2. 
 
After making initial contact, a Codes Enforcement Officer will give a resident who is out of compliance 30 days to show progress addressing an area of concern. During a follow-up visit, if no corrective action has taken place, the resident may face a fine. If a resident is disabled or in financial distress and fears they will be unable to make any progress, Codes Enforcement Officers may connect that resident with a community organization that may provide assistance. 

Next Walker County Commissioner's Meeting: Thursday April 27th at 6:30pm
Commissioner's Office • 101 South Duke Street • LaFayette, Georgia 30728
Quick Response Vehicles Improve Service & Save Taxpayers Money
Walker County Emergency Services (WCES) placed three Quick Response Vehicles (QRV) into operation in March. These vehicles can respond to any incident, but will primarily work medical calls and motor vehicle accidents. In their first week in service, WCES used a QRV to respond to 39 of 44 calls.

The addition of these QRVs comes at no added expense to the taxpayer, and will provide Walker County residents with significant savings. WCES repurposed trucks used to battle brush fires. In addition, the department relocated medical and extrication equipment from fire engines for this new service.

QRVs are more cost effective to maintain than fire engines, get twice as much gas mileage and will improve response times. They also allow WCES to extend the life span of existing fire engines, since these 35,000+ pound units will now be used to primarily respond to residential and commercial fires.

Each QRV is staffed with a minimum of two firefighters.
Employment Opportunities
Welcome Aboard
Walker County welcomed several new employees in March & April. Codes, Inspections, Planning and Animal Control Director David Brown, Landfill Manager Paine Gily and Litter Control Officer Jimmy Tipton started work. Chris Burse and James Leamon received promotions to Codes Enforcement in recognition of their hard work. Burse served for nearly a decade in Public Works, while Leamon managed Litter Control for nearly two years.
Earth Day Clean-up - April 22nd
Ongoing Initiatives
18 tons! That's the amount of roadside trash our Litter Detail picked up over the first 3 months of 2017. They collected 12,280 pounds of garbage in January, 12,040 pounds in February and 11,960 pounds in March. They also discovered 282 tires dumped among the trash. There are a half dozen private companies that provide household garbage service in Walker County. You can find their names and phone numbers listed on the county's website.
Meeting & Events Calendar
Lunch Conversation 
On March 17, Commissioner Shannon Whitfield held his first public Lunch Conversation with the Commissioner in Rossville, during Georgia Small Business Week. Whitfield has been urging residents to shop and dine within Walker County, which benefits local business owners and the county’s tax base. According to the Walker County Chamber of Commerce, 63% of its members are businesses with less than 10 employees.
Storm Response
A severe storm on March 21st knocked down countless trees and power lines across Walker County. Roughly 100 roads were impacted in the county and it took Public Works crews several weeks to clean-up all of the storm debris. Then on April 5th, Walker County Emergency Services took a proactive approach to coordinate a response to some potentially dangerous weather. EMA opened an Emergency Operations Center for county and city departments to coordinate operations. Three shelters for the public were established and a Mobile Command unit was placed on standby in LaFayette to coordinate a response in southern Walker County. Thankfully, the storms passed without much trouble.  
Quick Hits
Community Meetings:
Commissioner Whitfield recently met with the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group to discuss codes enforcement and litter. Residents posed many questions, including the financial state of the county and the previous administration's early retirement pension incentive program. Commissioner Whitfield also addressed legislation to let voters decide if they want to change the county's form of government, which has since passed the Georgia House & Senate.
Community Event:
The City of LaFayette, in cooperation with Walker County, the City of Chickamauga and Rock City, will host the inaugural Honeybee Bicycle Ride on May 13th. Proceeds will be used to lower registration fees for all youth wanting to play baseball, soccer and other sports at LaFayette Rec. Scenic routes featuring 10, 34 and 63 miles will be available to ride through the hills and valleys of Walker County. To register visit www.bikereg.com/honeybeemetric.
Improving Safety:
Researchers with the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Physical Acoustics placed a microphone array in Walker County, as part of a tornado detection and warning research program for NOAA. One of ten being deploy across the Southeast, this device aims to identify low-frequency acoustic signals that could be used to help forecasters anticipate, detect, track and warn the public of tornadic activity.
Wildlife Day:
The Walker County Tax Commissioner's Office placed second among Georgia counties in a recent competition to promote the sale of state wildlife tags. Walker County posted a 62% increase in sales during the contest period. The additional sales translate into almost $2,000 in direct wildlife support. Walker County celebrated the accomplishment by hosting a Wildlife Day. Some of the animals featured included a bald eagle, gopher tortoise, owl and a hawk.
CHAMPS Graduation:
Commissioner Whitfield and Sheriff Steve Wilson congratulated 60+ students at Gilbert Elementary School who graduated from the CHAMPS program. CHAMPS stands for Choosing Healthy Activities & Methods Promoting Safety. Commissioner Whitfield talked with students about working hard, overcoming obstacles and never giving up.
Blood Drive:
The Walker County Sheriff's Office won the annual Battle of the Badges competition against the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department. Walker County collected 58 units of blood, compared to 39 units from Catoosa County. The real winners in the competition are the patients who receive the donated blood. 
Help End Petlessness
Chloe would love to be a part of your family. She's an 8 month old bulldog lab mix that was surrendered to the Walker County Animal Shelter by her owner. Chloe weighs about 30 pounds, is very sweet and gets along well with other dogs. She has already been spade and is up to date on her shots. For adoption information, contact the Walker County Animal Shelter at 706-375-2100 between 10:00am and 4:00pm Monday through Friday or 8:00am and 1:00pm on Saturday. We are also happy to report that Madame Bleu, our featured pet in last month's issue, has been adopted!
Rabies Clinics are coming!
Coming next month: An Innovative Approach to Animal Welfare in Walker County
Copyright © 2017 Walker County Commissioner's Office, All rights reserved.


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