Walker County Newsletter  Issue 11
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In this issue:
  • Laying the groundwork for future growth
  • An open discussion on modernizing our Animal Control ordinance
  • An update on Primary Healthcare
  • Improvements to the county government job board
  • A new Fire Marshal takes the reigns
  • Quick Hits (including the answer to the pot hole question)
Whitfield announces staffing moves aimed at laying the groundwork for future growth

Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield is excited to announce two new members to his administration, as the county pivots from debt management as a primary focus to laying the foundation for sustainable growth.  Robert Wardlaw has been named Economic and Community Development Director and Matt Williamson has been named Legal and Policy Director for Walker County Government.
Wardlaw, a former Coca-Cola executive, built a successful business career founded on strong relationships, ethical behavior and a commitment to others.  In recent years, as a member of the Walker County Development Authority, Wardlaw gained expertise in economic development, site selection, state and federal tax incentives and helping businesses with development plans.
“We have the potential to close a number of active business deals that could lead to the creation of a significant number of jobs in Walker County,” said Commissioner Whitfield. “Wardlaw’s knowledge and proven track record in the business world gives us a competitive edge over other communities to turn these and other opportunities into winning outcomes for Walker County.”
In addition to recruiting new business and servicing existing industry, Wardlaw will work to anticipate and address current and future infrastructure needs to facilitate a thriving community.
Williamson, who served four years as an associate attorney at the highly respected law firm of Womack, Gottlieb & Rodham, will be tasked with helping Walker County keep pace with the needs of its growing citizenry.  Along with updating the county’s codes and policies, he’ll handle day to day legal issues that arise.  Williamson’s first assignment will be to oversee the update to the county’s antiquated Animal Control ordinance.
“I look forward to helping make ordinances clear and concise, reviewing and revising our contract management system, keeping the government in compliance with all federal and state laws and helping the Commissioner carry out his vision of making Walker County a better place for all of us,” said Williamson.
The new additions come at no incremental cost to Walker County. Wardlaw’s compensation will be in line with the county’s previous Economic Development Director.  Williamson, who will be restricted from receiving incentives for working on any future bond issues, will make less than what the county spent in hourly attorney’s fees last year.
An open discussion on modernizing
our Animal Control ordinance

Over 80 residents turned out to provide their input on issues relating to animal control at a community meeting on the topic. Walker County plans to update animal ordinances this year. Before work begins, Commissioner Whitfield and his team want to hear from the public about the problems they're having with animals.

There were numerous comments about the responsibility of animal owners and methods to make those owners more accountable. Roaming animals, vaccination, chaining, farm animals in residential areas, trap neuter release programs for feral cats, creating a licensing program and mandatory spay/neuter for overpopulated breeds were among other topics discussed.

We have provided an 8 minute highlight reel on the county's facebook page. The video was shot in 360, so you can rotate the view to look around the room.

The process of updating the ordinance will likely take much of the year to complete. The public will have another opportunity to weigh in on the topic prior to any changes being approved.
An update on Primary Healthcare
Attorney's for Walker County and Primary Healthcare met on January 30th to discuss a revised lease offer with reduced rate options. The offer covered both the Rossville and LaFayette properties. It also contained a written 60 day notice to terminate the previous lease agreements on the two properties. The notice was served as a courtesy, since the building use agreement on the Rossville property expired on August 31, 2017 and the building use agreement on the LaFayette property expired on January 31, 2018.

The reduced rate started at $0.62184 per square foot for both locations for the first 12 months. The price would have increased in years two and three, depending on whether PHC wanted the flexibility of a year to year lease or a discounted three-year term, with no option to cancel. Both options presented rental plans below appraised market rental value.

Walker County recognizes the high quality medical and dental care services PHC provides to the North Georgia region. That’s why Walker County Government worked in good faith for more than nine months to reach a resolution with PHC that would benefit our citizens, as well as their organization.

On February 22, PHC signed a lease with Walker County Schools to move into the old Fairview Elementary School. Superintendent Damon Raines said, "We discussed this with Primary Healthcare several years ago, once the decision was made to move our Special Education Department from the Center for Evaluation and Consultation to the Advancing Education Center building in Chickamauga for consolidation purposes.” The $2,500 a month lease with the school system begins March 1st and runs for a year.
Job board improvements at

We've made improvements to the job board on our new website.

First, we've created an easy to remember URL that will take you directly to a list of our open positions, without having to search for it. Simply type in your browser and you'll be transported to the job board.

Also, instead of a lengthy page filled with job descriptions that you have to scroll through, each available position now has a brief summary and a page to visit for in depth information about the responsibilities of the job. Job opening pages are also shareable on Twitter, Facebook and Google + using the social share buttons conveniently placed at the bottom of each post.

In addition, we added "job openings" to the Trending Topics section, found at the bottom of the homepage and added a breakout menu under Human Resources on the main menu. 

The Walker County Planning Commissioner will hold a work session at 5:45 p.m. before their 7 p.m. regularly scheduled meeting on March 15th at the Walker County Civic Center.

The Georgia Botanical Society will host a Pocket of Pigeon Mountain field trip on Sunday, March 25th. Contact Mike Christison at for more information.
A new Fire Marshal takes the reigns

During Firefighter's Recognition Day at the Georgia State Capitol this month, State Fire Marshal Dwayne Garrison deputized Fire Marshal Paul Linder and Deputy Fire Marshal Scott McDaniel from Walker County Emergency Services. Both have served WCES for more than a decade in a variety of capacities.

The shoes on the stairs in the pictures represent 114 fire deaths in the state of Georgia for 2017.

Quick Hits
The Walker County Judiciary Annex building has been closed while demolition crews determine a course of action for a building that collapsed on the square in downtown LaFayette.

The Public Defender's office, Superior Court and Drug Court have all been relocated to 101 Farris Street as a safety precaution.
Have you felt the bump of a pothole recently? Walker County Public Works crews filled 180 of these road craters in January. 

Patching and pothole work is one of the new department statistics we're tracking. You can see each month's report in our Records & Statistics section on our website.

We've received a final tally on the clean-up efforts at an illegal dump site between LaFayette and Villanow. Georgia EPD contracted with C2G to salvage the 3,718 tires, which weighed 51.6 tons!

C2G will grind up the tires, so the material can be repurposed.

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