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MITCHELL'S PLUMBING in LaFayette is the WQCH featured advertiser of the week.  Residential and commercial plumbing from septic tank and field line installation to kitchen and bathroom remodeling.  Call Gene or Daniel at 706 638 8914.

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TOP LOCAL NEWS STORIES:

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM TO 6 PM EST
THURSDAY... FOR A MIX OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN.
* LOCATIONS...NORTH AND WEST OF A LINE FROM ROME TO ELLIJAY.
* HAZARD TYPES...A MIX OF SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN.
* ACCUMULATIONS...UP TO A QUARTER OF AN INCH OF SLEET...AND UP TO A TENTH OF AN INCH OF ICE.
* TIMING...6 AM TO 6 PM THURSDAY.
* IMPACTS...SLEET AND ICE ACCUMULATIONS ON ROADWAYS AND ESPECIALLY ELEVATED SURFACES MAY RESULT IN HAZARDOUS TRAVEL CONDITIONS.
* TEMPERATURES...TEMPERATURES WILL BE JUST ABOVE FREEZING ACROSS
EXTREME NORTHWEST GEORGIA AROUND SUNRISE THURSDAY AND WILL FALL THROUGH THE DAY.

*   IN THEIR THIRD DAY OF DELIBERATION, A CHATTOOGA COUNTY JURY HAS RETURNED A “NOT GUILTY” VERDICT IN THE MURDER TRIAL OF DEBORAH WILKINS.
    SHE SHOT AND KILLED HER BOYFRIEND, WILLIAM ROBERT “BOB” PACKER, AT HIS HOME IN RURAL CHATTOOGA COUNTY.
    WILKINS CLAIMED THAT SHE WAS ACTING IN SELF-DEFENSE… AND TESTIFIED THAT PACKER HAD SAID HE HAD PLANS TO KILL HER AND SEVERAL OTHERS.
    IRONICALLY, THE MAN WHO WAS KILLED IN THIS CASE… PACKER… HAD ALSO BEEN ACQUITTED TWICE ON MURDER CHARGES.  HE SHOT AND KILLED HIS NEIGHBOR ON THE SAME PROPERTY.   PACKER ALSO CLAIMED SELF DEFENSE, ALLEGING THAT JAMES “PEE WEE” KIRBY HAD THREATENED HIM WITH A KNIFE.

*  THE LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL PASSED A NEW PAWN SHOP ORDINANCE AT A SPECIAL CALLED MEETING MONDAY NIGHT.
    THE PROPOSAL HAS BEEN CONSIDERED FOR THE LAST TWO MONTHS… AND REQUIRES THOSE IN THE PAWN BUSINESS TO INSTALL SOFTWARE THAT WILL HELP LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TRACK STOLEN MERCHANDISE.
    “WE’RE THE ONLY AGENCY IN THE AREA THAT DOESN’T HAVE IT”… SAID CHIEF OF POLICE BENJIE CLIFT.   THE LOCAL DEPARTMENT HAS TO GO THROUGH PAPER TRANSACTION SLIPS UNDER THE CURRENT SYSTEM.
    UNDER THE NEW ORDINANCE, THE POLICE DEPARTMENT WILL PAY FOR SOFTWARE FROM “LEADS ONLINE”… AND PAWN SHOP OWNERS MUST SUPPLY A COMPUTER AND DIGITAL CAMERA.   PICTURES AND RECORDS OF TRANSACTIONS WILL BE PLACED ON THE “LEADS ONLINE” SITE EACH DAY… AND WILL BE ACCESSIBLE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES AROUND THE NATION.
    THE COUNCIL ALSO PLACED ALLOWABLE “HOURS OF OPERATION” IN THE ORDINANCE… AND PAWN SHOPS WILL NOW BE LIMITED TO THE HOURS OF 7 AM TO 7 PM.   CLIFT SAID “IF SOMEONE IS PAWNING A WEED EATER AT 11 O’CLOCK AT NIGHT, CHANCES ARE IT WAS STOLEN”.
    NONE OF LAFAYETTE’S EXISTING PAWN SHOPS OPERATE AS LATE AS 7 PM CURRENTLY, HE SAID.
    IN OTHER BUSINESS, THE COUNCIL APPROVED AN AGREEMENT TO LET THE WALKER COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM OPERATE BOTH SUMMER FEEDING PROGRAM FOR KIDS, THIS YEAR.   IN THE PAST, THE SCHOOL SYSTEM HAS OFFERED BREAKFAST AND LUNCH AT THE MAX STOKER CENTER, WHILE THE YMCA OFFERED LUNCH AT THE PARK REC CENTER.   WITH THE SCHOOL SYSTEM NOW OPERATING BOTH SITES IN LAFAYETTE… BOTH LOCATIONS WILL BE OFFERING BREAKFAST AND LUNCH TO KIDS DURING SUMMER BREAK.   MAYOR ANDY ARNOLD SAID THAT LAST YEAR, THE SCHOOL SYSTEM SERVED OVER 32-THOUSAND LUNCHES AND OVER 11-THOUSAND BREAKFASTS IN WALKER COUNTY, DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS.
    AND THE COUNCIL VOTED TO CHANGE THE BEGINNING TIME OF THEIR REGULAR MONTHLY MEETING TO 6:30 PM.  IT WAS MOVED FROM THE FORMER START-TIME OF 7:30.  THE NEW 6:30 START TIME WILL BEGIN WITH THE APRIL COUNCIL MEETING.

*   LAFAYETTE POLICE ARE ASKING THE PUBLIC TO HELP IDENTIFY A DIRT BIKE RIDER WHO LED THEM ON A CHASE LAST FRIDAY AFTERNOON.
    DIRT BIKES ARE NOT STREET-LEGAL… SO WHEN AN OFFICER SPOTTED THE RIDER ON SOUTH MAIN AT GRANT STREET, THE CHASE BEGAN.  THE REPORT INDICATED THAT WHEN THE BLUE LIGHTS WENT ON, THE RIDER “POPPED A WHEELIE” AND SPED AWAY.   HE TURNED ON FOSTER BOULEVARD AND CROSSED THE BYPASS… HIT 136 AND ENTERED SKYLINE HEIGHTS, BEFORE DISAPPEARING INTO THE WOODS ON A DIRT ROAD OFF ALPINE DRIVE.
    POLICE SAY THE MAN HAD A BLACK AND RED HELMET… AND WAS RIDING A YELLOW DIRT BIKE WITH WHITE FENDERS.   ANYONE WITH INFORMATION MAY CONTACT LAFAYETTE POLICE.

*   THE JURY IS DELIBERATING THE FATE OF DEBORAH WILKINS... IN A CHATTOOGA COUNTY MURDER TRIAL.
    WILKINS IS ACCUSED OF SHOOTING HER BOYFRIEND TO DEATH IN HIS RURAL CHATTOOGA COUNTY HOME.   BOB PACKER WAS SHOT FIVE TIMES... AND WILKINS WAITED 13 HOURS BEFORE NOTIFYING AUTHORITIES.  HER ATTORNEY PORTRAYED HER AS A LONG TIME VICTIM OF ABUSE.  WILKINS FACES LIFE IN PRISON IF CONVICTED.

*   LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS HAD PRAISE FOR EMPLOYEES AND THEIR REACTION TO LAST THURSDAY’S HEAVY SNOW:  AT MONDAY NIGHT’S MEETING, COUNCIL WOMAN JUDY MEEKS CONGRATULATED POLICE CORPORAL NICK TERRY FOR HIS ROLE IN DELIVERING A BABY GIRL FOR A DAUGHERTY STREET FAMILY, DURING THE SNOW STORM THURSDAY MORNING.
    OTHERS NOTED THAT STREET PLOWING BEGAN AS EARLY AS 1 AM THURSDAY… AND THAT THERE WERE NO REPORTED POWER OUTAGES FOR THE CITY ELECTRIC DEPARTMENT.

*   THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE WILL BE APPLYING FOR A HALF-MILLION DOLLAR GRANT TO FUND REPLACEMENT OF THE WATER MAIN UNDER SOUTH CHATTANOOGA STREET.   THE PROJECT WOULD IMPROVE PRESSURE AT FIRE HYDRANTS AND COULD REDUCE FIRE INSURANCE RATES IN THE AREA
    OVER THE NEW FEW WEEKS, LAFAYETTE FIREMEN WILL BE CONDUCTING A DOOR TO DOOR SURVEY WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT HOUSEHOLD STATISTICS IN THAT AREA.   THE RESPONSE IS NEEDED FOR THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT GRANT APPLICATION.

*   WALKER COUNTY COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL HAS SAID THAT A 4.5-MILLION DOLLAR DEBT PAYMENT, DUE TO HUTCHESON MEDICAL CENTER'S DEFAULT, WOULD “NOT NECESSARILY” MEAN AN INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES.  NOW IT APPEARS THE COUNTY HAS FOUND A MEANS TO ACCOMPLISH THAT.   THEY’RE SEEKING LOCAL LEGISLATION, TO BE INTRODUCED BY DISTRICT 2 REPRESENTATIVE STEVE TARVIN, TO FORM A NEW “WALKER COUNTY PUBLIC FACILITIES AUTHORITY”.
    IF APPROVED BY THE LEGISLATURE, THE AUTHORITY WOULD BE ABLE TO SELL BONDS AND BORROW MONEY FOR PROJECTS OVER A LONGER TERM THAN IS PRESENTLY PERMITTED.  NORMALLY WHEN THE COUNTY BORROWS MONEY, IT MUST PAY IT BACK BY THE END OF THE YEAR… OR THE LOAN MUST BE BACKED BY A REVENUE STREAM, LIKE THE SPLOST TAX IN A “TAX ANTICIPATION NOTE”.
    BUT COUNTIES THAT HAVE A PUBLIC FACILITIES AUTHORITY IN PLACE CAN RAISE MONEY FOR PROJECTS USING LONGER-TERM DEBT OBLIGATIONS.   MANY COUNTIES IN GEORGIA CURRENTLY HAVE A PUBLIC FACILITIES AUTHORITY… BUT THIS WILL BE A FIRST FOR WALKER.
    THE WORDING OF THE LOCAL LEGISLATION WILL DEFINE THE NUMBER OF AUTHORITY BOARD MEMBERS AND QUALIFICATIONS… AS WELL AS THE POWERS THEY WOULD HAVE TO RAISE FUNDS.  
    SO IF THE AUTHORITY IS APPROVED… IT’S POSSIBLE THAT LONG TERM FINANCING OF THE HUTCHESON DEBT COULD BE ARRANGED IN A WAY NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE.   IT WOULD ALSO MEAN THAT REPAYMENT OF THE DEBT COULD BE STRETCHED OVER YEARS;  THUS AVOIDING A SINGLE PAYMENT - AND THE TAX INCREASE THAT WOULD RESULT - IN ANY ONE YEAR.

*   THE WALKER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICE REPORTS A FAILING GRADE FROM LAST WEEK’S INSPECTIONS.  GREG’S RESTAURANT IN CHICKAMAUGA SCORED AN UNACCEPTABLE SCORE OF 62.   THE DEPARTMENT CITIED INFRACTIONS INCLUDING BARE HANDS CONTACT WITH READY-TO-EAT FOOD… IMPROPER EATING AND TOBACCO USE… PERSONAL CLEANLINESS AND TEMPERATURE CONTROL OF FOODS .   THE RESTAURANT WILL BE RE-INSPECTED IN A FEW DAYS.
    OTHER SCORES WERE GOOD LAST WEEK:   ARBY’S, LITTLE CAESARS AND THE DARI DIP IN LAFAYETTE… AND THE BRICK OVEN AT ROCK SPRING… ALL SCORED AN “A”.

*   LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL WILL HOLD “JUNIOR NIGHT” THIS COMING TUESDAY, MARCH 3rd.  BENJAMIN MEADOWS OF THE GEORGIA STUDENT FINANCE COMMISSION WILL EXPLAIN THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP AND OTHER FINANCIAL AID.   THE LHS GUIDANCE DEPARTMENT WILL HAVE VALUABLE INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS.   ALL JUNIORS AND THEIR PARENTS SHOULD ATTEND TUESDAY AT 5 PM, IN THE LHS AUDITORIUM. 

*   LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL WILL ALSO HAVE A SPECIAL DAY FOR GRADUATING SENIORS, THIS WEDNESDAY.
    LHS SENIORS AND THEIR PARENTS CAN GET ASSISTANCE COMPLETING THE FAFSA… WHICH IS THE APPLICATION FOR THE HOPE SCHOLARSHIP… PLUS HELP WITH THE PELL GRANT AND OTHER FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE.
    REPRESENTATIVES FROM THE DALTON STATE COLLEGE FINANCIAL AID OFFICE WILL BE THERE TO ANSWER QUESTIONS.   LHS SENIORS AND THEIR PARENTS CAN MEET WITH REPRESENTATIVES ANYTIME BETWEEN 8 AM AND 3 PM, THIS WEDNESDAY.   CONTACT THE LHS OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON “WHAT TO BRING”.

*   LAFAYETTE’S DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY WILL HOST A COMMUNITY BUSINESS BREAKFAST, ON WEDNESDAY MORNING.   THE 7 AM BREAKFAST WILL BE HELD AT THE LAFAYETTE GOLF COURSE CLUB HOUSE OFF GASQUE DRIVE.  ALL BUSINESS OWNERS ARE INVITED TO ATTEND.

*    INSURANCE COMMISSIONER RALPH HUDGENS SAYS THAT 3.7-MILLION GEORGIANS WERE AFFECTED BY A CYBER-ATTACK ON ANTHEM… THE PARENT COMPANY OF BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF GEORGIA.
    THE COMPANY WILL BE OFFERING THOSE AFFECTED 24 MONTHS OF CREDIT MONITORING AND IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION.
    CONTACT THE COMPANY AT 877-263-7995 OR AT “ANTHEMFACTS.COM”.

*   WALKER COUNTY HAS JUST BEEN AWARDED A MILLION DOLLARS IN STATE FUNDING TO ASSIST WITH RAILROAD CONSTRUCTION AT THE NEW AUDIA INTERNATIONAL PLANT AT NOBLE.  DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY DIRECTOR LARRY BROOKS GOT THE NEWS WEDNESDAY MORNING.
    BROOKS SAID THAT NANCY COBB… GEORGIA D.O.T. ADMINISTRATOR OVER THE INTERMODAL DIVISION… TOOK THE REQUEST FOR PROJECT ASSISTANCE BEFORE GOVERNOR NATHAN DEAL.   HE APPROVED THE MILLION DOLLAR GRANT - WHICH WILL BE USED TO BUILD THE “LEAD TRACK” FROM THE CHATTOOGA AND CHICKAMAUGA MAIN LINE INTO THE WALKER COUNTY BUSINESS PARK.   WHEN COMPLETED, THE STATE WILL OWN THE LEAD TRACK, BROOKS SAID. 
    THE STATE LOOKS AT JOB CREATION… AND INVOLVEMENT BY BOTH THE INDUSTRY AND THE COMMUNITY… BEFORE AWARDING SUCH ASSISTANCE.  AUDIA PLANS TO CREATE CAPACITY FOR UP TO 500 RAIL CARS TO SHIP THEIR PLASTIC PRODUCTS TO CUSTOMERS.
    BROOKS CREDITED MS. COBB, THE GOVERNOR, STATE SENATOR JEFF MULLIS AND COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL IN THE SUCCESSFUL REQUEST FOR STATE ASSISTANCE.   “THE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY HAS AN INCREDIBLE TEAM… IT’S NOT EASY TO GET THIS KIND OF AID FROM THE STATE,” BROOKS SAID.  “TOGETHER, WE’RE MAKING GOOD THINGS HAPPEN FOR NORTHWEST GEORGIA”.

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