The demand for the COVID-19 vaccine remains high in Walker County. Thanks to a partnership between Walker County Government, Georgia Department of Public Health and the Walker County Health Department, the process to get a vaccine has been streamlined.
One call now does it all. Eligible residents can call the Walker County COVID-19 hotline at 706-620-0887 or 706-670-1234 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday to get their name on the waitlist to be vaccinated. Then, as supply becomes available locally, someone from the call center will reach back out to schedule your appointment at the Walker County Health Department.
During the past two weeks, the Walker County COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline has helped 3,002 individuals in the Phase 1a+ category get on the waitlist for vaccine. The hotline has also booked 975 appointments for vaccination.
Ronald Underwood recently received his COVID-19 vaccine and was pleased with the vaccination process. Underwood said, “I am very impressed with how it’s gone , because I being a senior citizen, so to speak, I was dreading if we had to get outside and stand and wait in line. This has been an excellent process.”
On your appointment day, arrive right around your appointment time. There is only a one page document to fill out, so if you show up too early and there are too many people inside, you may be asked to sit in your vehicle until your appointment to allow for social distancing in the Health Department lobby.
For many people, it takes about 10 to 12 minutes to go from arrival to shot in arm to back to the lobby. Stan Porter said, “They took me right on time. It was painless. The lady was very good at giving shots. It was very quick, in and out."
Vaccinations are currently being conducted at the Health Department office in LaFayette. But as more supply becomes available, additional providers will be able to administer the vaccine. Porter added, “I think you are better off to have it than to not have it because the only way we’re going to get ahead of this virus is if enough people are inoculated that we can go back to some form of normalcy.”
Georgia has established multiple phases for the vaccine rollout, so if you are not eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine right now, sooner or later you will be.
New Home Construction in Walker County in 2020
Posts Best of Decade Numbers
2020 proved to be a banner year for new home construction in unincorporated Walker County. In fact, it was the best of the decade.
Data tracked by the Walker County Planning Office shows a 17% increase year over year in the number of permits issued for the construction of new single-family homes. Housing starts grew from 128 units in 2019 to 150 in 2020.
A majority of the growth occurred in unincorporated areas near Chickamauga, LaFayette and Flintstone-Chattanooga Valley. Homebuilders pulled 40 permits around Chickamauga, 36 permits outside of LaFayette and 27 permits just across the state border from Chattanooga, Tennessee in the Flintstone-Chattanooga Valley community.
The average size of new home construction in Walker County expanded 214 square feet last year to 2,514.
In addition, the average cost of construction rose to $211,753 per home, a $35,980 increase over 2019. Total valuation of all homes built in 2020 exceeded $31-million.
While the addition of 150 homes in 2020 outpaced recent historical data for Walker County, it may serve as the springboard for future growth. “It would not surprise me with some of the developments we have coming, including the one off Happy Valley Road, if we double that number in 2021,” said Shannon Whitfield, Chairman of the Walker County Board of Commissioners.
Walker County (unincorporated) Single Family Home Permits - 2011 to 2020
CHI Memorial Now Provides Ambulance Service in Walker County
CHI Memorial EMS started providing ambulance service – including emergency and non-emergency transport – to Walker County on February 1, 2021. During the first day of service, CHI Memorial responded to 18 calls that resulted in 15 transports.
Under the four-year agreement, ambulances will be strategically located throughout Walker County to ensure optimal response times outlined by the county, an important factor in efficiently covering a large service area. To keep up with Walker County’s growing call volume for ambulance services, CHI Memorial’s contract includes increasing the number of ambulances available for 24-hour on-call availability from four to five and adding additional manpower to manage the service. A 24-hour supervisor, who will be responsible for managing day-to-day operations, will be stationed at the Walker County Fire Station in Rock Spring.
CHI Memorial EMS has more than 32 years experience in medical service delivery, including 911 experience, as well as operating primary care and convenient care clinics in the area. CHI Memorial Hospital Georgia provides inpatient and emergency care, laboratory, radiology, pharmacy, and outpatient treatments along with medical and surgical services. Taking on this role as EMS provider is another example of CHI Memorial’s commitment to delivering comprehensive healthcare services to the North Georgia area.
“CHI Memorial leadership was very clear that supporting critical ambulance services would be a great opportunity for us to grow CHI Memorial’s reach and presence in the North Georgia area. Our integrated services means we’re positioned to act quickly during medical emergencies, which is a benefit for people who live in more rural parts of the counties,” says Paul Feaster, director of CHI Memorial EMS. “Being stationed throughout these communities helps ensure safe and responsive ambulance service as well as providing vital support for other first responders and community members in need.”
“Pre-hospital service is something we take very seriously and can be the difference in life and death for many of our sickest patients,” says Feaster. “It’s an honor for us to serve this community, and we’re very excited to make a difference in any way we can.”
For more information about CHI Memorial EMS, call 423-495-4444.
Walker County Animal Shelter Now Accepting
The Walker County Animal Shelter started accepting applications for appointments for animal adoptions in February.
The county suspended adoptions at the shelter last year in an effort to keep staff safe amid the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past ten months, staff has worked with a team of animal rescue groups to place 740 dogs and 352 cats in good homes while adoptions were unavailable.
Those interested in adopting from the Walker County Animal Shelter must complete an application and adoption contract first. Once an application/contract has been submitted, a member of the shelter staff will contact the applicant to schedule an appointment for an animal meet and greet.
Potential adopters must adhere to several COVID-19 protocols while visiting the shelter, including a requirement to wear a face covering. There will also be a strict limit of three people per appointment.
If a match is made and an adoption approved, shelter staff will schedule vetting for the animal and will notify the adopter when the animal is available for pick up. The adoption fee is $100 for dogs and $50 for cats and includes spay/neuter, vaccination, microchipping, deworming and flea/tick prevention.
New Walker Transit Route Improves Jobs Access for Roper Corp. Employees in Walker County
Walker Transit recently expanded its services to improve access for workers in need of transportation to one of Walker County’s largest employers. The creation of a new route for Roper Corporation provides their workforce with direct pick-up and drop-off locations throughout Walker County.
“Roper Corporation approached us about addressing some of the employment barriers that exist in our community,” said John Logan, Walker Transit Director. “One solution we agreed on was helping those without adequate transportation get to and from work. Through a partnership with our local Hardee’s restaurants, we established bus stops at their locations in Rossville, Chickamauga and LaFayette to provide a ride to Roper.”
The new route operates on the following schedule for pick-up Monday through Friday:
5:15 a.m. – Hardees of Rossville, 300 McFarland Avenue, Rossville
5:35 a.m. – Hardees of Chickamauga, 12876 N Hwy 27, Chickamauga
5:55 a.m. – Hardees of LaFayette – 813 N Main Street, LaFayette
6:15 a.m. – Roper Corporation – 1507 Broomtown Road, LaFayette
Walker Transit then returns to Roper Corporation at 5:30 p.m. and transports riders back to the Hardee’s bus stop location of their choice.
Roper Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of GE appliances, employs more than 2,100 people in Walker County. Due to increased demand for appliances, the company announced plans last month to add another 150 workers locally.
“The Roper route is a pilot project that could be expanded to assist other industries in the future,” said Chairman Shannon Whitfield, Walker County Board of Commissioners. “There are several other large employers in our county that may find a service like this beneficial to their employees.”
One-way transportation costs $4 per person, which is the standard rate for all Walker Transit customers.
Board of Commissioners Set Regular Meeting Schedule
The Walker County Board of Commissioners, the Governing Authority of Walker County, recently formalized a schedule for its regular public meetings for 2021.
Regular meetings will be held on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Walker County Courthouse Annex III building, located at 201 S Main Street in LaFayette, GA. Prior to transitioning to a Board of Commissioners, Sole Commissioner meetings were held at 6:00 p.m.
Those planning to attend regular meetings will encounter a number of COVID-19 related precautions, such as a temperature screening, sign-in sheet for contact tracing and limited seating so social distancing can be observed. The meeting space can accommodate about 24 people. Face masks are encouraged, but not required. Hand sanitizer will be provided.
Walker County was recently awarded a $6,000 Employee Safety Grant from ACCG – Group Self-Insurance Workers’ Compensation Fund (ACCG-GSIWCF). The Employee Safety Grant Program is awarded to local governments that make significant efforts to provide a safe work environment for their employees. Grant funds will be used to purchase AED devices, one-man CPR masks and outdoor lighting.
Logan Receives Certificate in Grant Writing
John Logan, Director of Grants & Public Transit, recently received a certificate from the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education. Logan completed the continuing education program in Grant Writing. The program provides training to write compelling proposals that secure funding and generate ongoing support for the county.
2020: A Year in Review (non-COVID edition)
2020 was challenging, but our community continued to move forward, despite the uncertain times. Check out this short year in review video to see some of the highlights from last year.