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TOP LOCAL NEWS STORIES:

*   EVEN HIS CORE POLITICAL SUPPORTERS HAVE QUESTIONED WALKER COUNTY COMMISSIONER SHANNON WHITFIELD’S HELP WITH THE CANYON RIDGE RESORT DEVELOPMENT ON LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.   NOW THE NEW COMMISSIONER HAS ANNOUNCED TWO “TOWN HALL MEETINGS” TO GIVE THE PUBLIC MORE DETAILS ON THE PLAN.
    CALLING IT A “UNIQUE TOURISM OPPORTUNITY”… THE CANYON RIDGE DEVELOPMENT PLANS TO EMPLOY A MINIMUM OF 180 FULL-TIME WORKERS WHEN IT OPENS IN LATE 2019… AND IT WOULD GENERATE AN ESTIMATED 1-MILLION DOLLARS IN NEW TAX REVENUE FOR WALKER COUNTY, ACCORDING TO THE COMMISSIONER.
    CRITICS HAVE QUESTIONED, HOWEVER, THAT THE COUNTY IS PROPOSING TAX INCENTIVES FOR THE PRIVATE INVESTORS WHO WILL FINANCE THE PROJECT.
    THE TOWN HALL MEETINGS WILL BE HELD AT THE WALKER COUNTY CIVIC CENTER WITH WHITFIELD, DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY CHAIR ROBERT WARDLAW AND REPRESENTATIVES FROM SCENIC LAND COMPANY - THE PROJECT DEVELOPER.
    THEY ARE SET FOR MONDAY, JUNE 5th AND WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7th AT 6 PM BOTH EVENINGS… AND QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC ARE WELCOME.

*   WITHIN HOURS OF GETTING OUT OF JAIL ON MARIJUANA CHARGES… A LOCAL MAN WAS ARRESTED IN A DOMESTIC CALL INVOLVING HIS GIRLFRIEND.
    LAFAYETTE POLICE WERE CALLED TO A NORTH MAIN STREET RESIDENCE SUNDAY, BY A FEMALE FRIEND OF THE WOMAN INVOLVED IN THE FUSS.
    HER BOYFRIEND, 39 YEAR OLD BRIAN DOUGLAS STEPHENS, TOLD POLICE HE WAS ANGRY OVER HIS PREVIOUS ARREST AND HAVING TO PAY THE BOND.   HE ADMITTED YELLING AT HIS GIRLFRIEND AND THROWING OBJECTS AT HER.
    THE FEMALE FRIEND, WHO WAS IN ANOTHER PART OF THE HOUSE, SAID SHE BELIEVED THE WOMAN FELL TO THE GROUND BECAUSE SHE HEARD A “THUMP” DURING THE ARGUMENT.  SHE SAID SHE WAS THERE TO HELP HER FRIEND MOVE OUT.
    POLICE CHARGED STEPHENS WITH SIMPLE ASSAULT UNDER THE FAMILY VIOLENCE ACT.

*   ONE OF THE IRONMAN BICYCLE COMPETITORS MADE A BAD MOVE AND HIT A VAN ON SUNDAY.
    THE RIDER WAS TRYING TO PASS ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE VAN, WHEN THE VEHICLE MADE A RIGHT-HAND TURN OFF COVE ROAD AT LEE CLARKSON.
    THE RIDER WAS NOT SERIOUSLY INJURED… AND THE DRIVER WAS NOT CHARGED, ACCORDING TO CHICKAMAUGA POLICE.
    THOUSANDS OF RIDERS COVERED THE BIKE ROUTE THROUGH RURAL WALKER COUNTY DURING THE IRONMAN COMPETITION.

*   AS THE SCHOOL YEAR DRAWS TO A CLOSE, LAFAYETTE’S MAYOR IS SAYING “GOODBYE” TO HIS YEARS AS A TEACHER AND COACH.
    ANDY ARNOLD RETIRES AFTER DECADES AT LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL… A PERENNIAL FAVORITE OF STUDENTS… AND COACH OF SEVERAL SPORTS.
    BEST WISHES TO MAYOR ARNOLD IN HIS RETIREMENT FROM TEACHING.

*   THE WALKER COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER WILL OFFER FREE PET ADOPTIONS DURING MEMORIAL WEEKEND, THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY.
    “PRICELESS PETS” WILL BE OFFERED AT THE SHELTER FROM 10 AM - 4 PM THIS FRIDAY… AND 8 AM - 1 PM SATURDAY.   THE USUAL ADOPTION CHARGES WILL BE WAIVED THIS WEEKEND ONLY.
    ALL DOGS AND CATS HAVE BEEN VACCINATED AND SPAYED OR NEUTERED… THAT’S THE “NEW NORMAL” FOR SHELTER ADOPTIONS IN WALKER COUNTY.  AND FOR THE FIRST FOUR MONTHS OF THIS YEAR, NEARLY 79% OF ALL ANIMALS BROUGHT TO THE WALKER COUNTY SHELTER HAVE BEEN SAVED.
    VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED TO WALK, WASH AND TRAIN DOGS AT THE SHELTER.  YOU CAN VOLUNTEER WHILE SEARCHING FOR YOUR “PRICELESS PET” THIS WEEKEND.  
    FOR THOSE WHO RENT THEIR HOMES, BE SURE TO BRING PROOF OF A PET-FRIENDLY LEASE TO SPEED-UP THE ADOPTION PROCESS.   THE SHELTER IS ON MARBLETOP ROAD NEAR THE LANDFILL.

*   A FUND-RAISING YARD SALE WILL BE HELD FOR THE M.S. SOCIETY THIS THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, AT 2927 OLD TRION HIGHWAY SOUTH OF LAFAYETTE.  ALL PROCEEDS GO TO MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS RESEARCH AND CARE.

UPDATE:   THE POLICE DEPARTMENT IN FORT OGLETHORPE NOW SAYS 44 YEAR OLD DANIEL BURNS JUNIOR, WHOSE BODY WAS DISCOVERED IN A VEHICLE ON THE BIG LOTS PARKING LOT SUNDAY MORNING, DIED OF NATURAL CAUSES.   CHIEF MIKE HELTON TOLD REPORTERS THAT THE DEATH APPEARED TO BE HEART-RELATED AND THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE OF FOUL PLAY.  THE GBI ASSISTED IN THE DEATH INVESTIGATION.

*   WALKER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH HANDED A “C” SCORE TO A LAFAYETTE RESTAURANT LAST WEEK.   TOKI SUSHI ON THE SQUARE SCORED A “75”… WITH PROBLEMS INCLUDING HANDS WASHING AND BARE HAND CONTACT WITH READY TO EAT FOODS.   THE RESTAURANT WILL BE RE-INSPECTED AFTER A CHANCE TO MAKE CHANGES.
    ALL OTHER SCORES WERE “A’s AND B’s” LAST WEEK.   SCORING AN “A” WERE THE WALKER COUNTY JAIL AND THE LAFAYETTE GOLF COURSE.
    SCORING A “B” WERE THE DARI DIP AND MOUNTAIN COVE GRILL.
    IN LOCAL MOTEL INSPECTIONS, KEY WEST IN LAFAYETTE SCORED A PERFECT “100”.
    ALSO SCORING “A’s” WERE MORGAN MOTEL IN LAFAYETTE AND GENERAL BRAGG INN AT CHICKAMAUGA.

*   YMCA SWIMMING LESSONS WILL BEGIN NEXT WEEK AT THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE POOL, AT THE PARK CENTER.   THE “Y” WILL START LESSONS ON MAY 30th… AND THIS TUESDAY IS THE REGISTRATION DEADLINE.
    THE YMCA WILL ALSO OFFER WATER AEROBICS DURING JULY, AT THE LAFAYETTE POOL.  THE NUMBER FOR INFORMATION IS (706) 935 2226.

*   THE CITY OF LAFAYETTE IS CURRENTLY ACCEPTING BIDS TO CUT AND BALE SQUARE BALES OF HAY ON CITY PROPERTY… AND ALSO TO BUY SQUARE HAY BALES FOR DELIVERY TO THE UTILITIES BUILDING.   DEADLINE TO SUBMIT BIDS IS JUNE 2nd.   FIND OUT MORE AT CITY HALL.

*   THE LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL AGREED TO HELP WITH EARTH MOVING WORK ON A NEW INDUSTRIAL PLANT TO BE BUILT ON WEST MCCARTER ROAD.
    THE CITY ENTERED THE AGREEMENT TO DO THE WORK FOR THE LAFAYETTE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, ON THE PROPERTY OF THE FORMER QUALITY CARPET CUSHION PLANT.  OWNER TIM TOOLE RECENTLY DEMOLISHED THE PLANT BUILDING, WHICH WAS HEAVILY DAMAGED BY FIRE SEVERAL YEARS AGO.
    HE PLANS TO EXPAND THE SIZE OF THE NEW BUILDING TO 114-THOUSAND SQUARE FEET… AND WILL REPORTEDLY LEASE IT TO ONE OF TWO PROSPECTIVE MANUFACTURERS.
    THE “LEAD PROSPECT” IS HIS NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR ON WEST MCCARTER ROAD, UNIQUE FABRICATING.   THEY PLAN TO EXPAND THEIR BUSINESS AND REPORTEDLY ARE CONSIDERING A CONTRACT TO LEASE THE NEW BUILDING FROM TOOLE.
    WALKER COUNTY’S DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY IS ALREADY ASSISTING TOOLE WITH THE RE-BUILDING PROJECT, THROUGH TAX ABATEMENTS.
    CITY MANAGER DAVID HAMILTON TOLD THE COUNCIL IN A SPECIAL CALLED MEETING THURSDAY NIGHT, THAT THE PLANT WILL MEAN MORE JOBS IN THE CITY.  
    HE SAID THE CITY CREWS WILL BE BUILDING A DETENTION POND TO CAPTURE RUNOFF… AND WILL REMOVE TOP SOIL FROM A PORTION OF THE PROPERTY.   THEY WILL DO THE WORK FOR THE LAFAYETTE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, SINCE BY LAW, THE CITY CAN’T WORK ON PRIVATE PROPERTY… HAMILTON SAID.   THE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, ON THE OTHER HAND, EXISTS IN ORDER TO HELP PRIVATE COMPANIES TO BUILD OR EXPAND THEIR BUSINESSES.
    ON ANOTHER TOPIC, THE COUNCIL APPROVED A CONTRACT FOR THE FIRST PHASE OF WORK IN CLEARING TREES FROM THE APPROACH TO THE BARWICK-LAFAYETTE REGIONAL AIRPORT.   AN ENGINEERING FIRM WILL PINPOINT THE SPECIFIC TREES THAT MUST BE REMOVED, IN ORDER TO MEET FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION RULES.   THE CITY WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING FIVE PERCENT OF THE PROJECT TOTAL… WITH THE REST COMING FROM FEDERAL AND STATE FUNDS. 
    AS MAYOR ANDY ARNOLD PUT IT:  “IF WE PLAN TO KEEP THE AIRPORT… AND WE DO… THEN WE HAVE TO REMOVE THE TREES”.

*   THE LOCAL ECONOMY IS ON A ROLL, JOB-WISE.   THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR SAYS THAT WALKER COUNTY’S NEW CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT DROPPED A WHOPPING 87-PERCENT FROM MARCH TO APRIL… ANOTHER SIGN THAT “FULL EMPLOYMENT” IS CLOSE AT HAND.
    THE STATE-WIDE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE WAS ALSO RELEASED TODAY… AND IT FELL FROM 5.1 PERCENT IN MARCH TO 5 PERCENT IN APRIL.   COMMISSIONER MARK BUTLER SAID “OUR RATE DECLINED AS WE SAW MORE PEOPLE BECOME EMPLOYED, THE LABOR FORCE CONTINUE TO GROW AND EMPLOYERS REDUCED THE NUMBER OF NEW LAYOFFS”.
    BUT, IT’S GETTING HARDER FOR BUSINESSES TO FIND WORKERS IN WALKER COUNTY.
    ACCORDING TO RECENT STATISTICS FROM THE GEORGIA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, WALKER COUNTY HAS A WORKFORCE OF JUST OVER 30,000… AND ALL BUT 4.7 PERCENT OF THEM HAVE A JOB.  THAT LEAVES AROUND 1,400 AVAILABLE TO WORK.
    WALKER COUNTY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY DIRECTOR LARRY BROOKS SAYS IT’S BECOMING A PROBLEM WHEN TRYING TO LAND A NEW INDUSTRY HERE.
    “WE’RE TALKING TO TWO MANUFACTURING PROSPECTS ABOUT LOCATING IN WALKER COUNTY… AND ONE OF THEIR MAJOR CONCERNS IS ‘CAN WE FIND THE PEOPLE WE NEED FOR THIS OPERATION’”, BROOKS SAID.
    “4.7 PERCENT IS CONSIDERED FULL EMPLOYMENT”, BROOKS ADDED… “SO WE’VE STARTED CHECKING TO SEE IF EMPLOYEES FROM SURROUNDING COUNTIES MIGHT BE AVAILABLE TO WORK IN WALKER COUNTY”.
    SEVERAL EXISTING WALKER COUNTY EMPLOYERS ARE CONTINUALLY SEEKING NEW EMPLOYEES… INCLUDING ROPER, SHAW AND NISSIN BRAKE.
    THERE IS A BRIGHT SIDE… THE LAW OF “SUPPLY AND DEMAND” MEANS THAT WAGES SHOULD INCREASE IN ORDER TO LAND THE WORKERS THAT EMPLOYERS ARE LOOKING FOR.

*   WORK IS CONTINUING ON A PLAN TO REVITALIZE WEST LAFAYETTE.  ACCORDING TO CITY MANAGER DAVID HAMILTON, THE NON-PROFIT COMPANY SOUTHFACE, IS WORKING ON A PRESENTATION TO BE MADE AT A FUTURE MEETING OF THE LAFAYETTE CITY COUNCIL.
    THAT PLAN WILL SUMMARIZE THEIR RESEARCH AND PUBLIC INPUT… AND WILL INCLUDE PROPOSALS TO UPDATE CITY ZONING ORDINANCES… WHICH THE COUNCIL MAY ADOPT COMPLETELY, IN PART, OR NOT AT ALL.
    AFTER THAT PHASE IS FINISHED, THE FOR-PROFIT ATLANTA DEVELOPMENT COMPANY… REA VENTURES LLC… PLANS TO APPLY FOR TAX CREDITS TO HELP THEM BUILD AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR RENT, IN THE WEST LAFAYETTE AREA.   DCA ISSUES THE TAX CREDITS IN ORDER TO ENCOURAGE AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN BLIGHTED AREAS.   REA, OF COURSE, IS INVESTING IN PROPERTY RENTALS FOR PROFIT.
    HAMILTON CONFIRMED THAT LOCAL DEVELOPERS HAVE ALSO EXPRESSED AN INTEREST IN BUILDING RENTAL COMMUNITIES ON THE WEST SIDE.
    WE’LL FIND OUT MORE ABOUT WEST LAFAYETTE REVITALIZATION, WHEN SOUTHFACE PRESENTS THEIR PLAN TO LOCAL LEADERS.

*   WALKER COUNTY HAS OFFERED TAX BREAKS TO A DEVELOPER FOR CONSTRUCTION OF A RESORT HOTEL AND CONFERENCE CENTER TO BE BUILT AT THE CANYON RIDGE GOLF COURSE ON LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.
    COMMISSIONER SHANNON WHITFIELD SAID “THIS IS A VERY EXCITING OPPORTUNITY FOR OUR COUNTY AND THE REGION”.  BUT THE COMMISSIONER ALSO EMPHASIZED… “THE PLANS DO NOT INCLUDE ANY FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS OR RISK-BACKING FROM WALKER COUNTY OR THE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY”.   WHITFIELD SAID THE COUNTY WILL “ENTHUSIASTICALLY SUPPORT AND FACILITATE” THE PROJECT.       
    THE PROPERTY IS ON THE EAST BROW OF LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN… AND OVERLOOKS THE COUNTY-OWNED MOUNTAIN COVE FARMS IN MCLEMORE COVE, BELOW.   THE WALKER COUNTY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY IS CURRENTLY IN THE PROCESS OF SEEKING A DEVELOPER TO LEASE AND OPERATE MOUNTAIN COVE FARMS. 
    THE CANYON RIDGE HOTEL PROJECT HAS BEEN IN THE WORKS SINCE 2008.  IT WAS DELAYED WHILE A LAWSUIT PLAYED-OUT BETWEEN THE ORIGINAL PARTNERS… AND FUNDING WAS ALSO AN ISSUE DUE TO THE RECESSION.  THE CURRENT 106-MILLION DOLLAR HOTEL PROJECT IS NOT YET FULLY FUNDED, ACCORDING TO DEVELOPER DUANE HORTON.
    THE RESORT HAS A PLANNED OPENING DATE OF FALL, 2019.

*   A TAILGATE EVENT FOR LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI, 1970 TO 1979… IS BEING PLANNED FOR JUNE 23rd AT THE OLD HIGH SCHOOL TRACK.
    SPONSORED BY THE CLASS OF ’77… OTHER CLASSES FROM THE 70’s ARE WELCOME TO PARTICIPATE AT THE FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENT.
    BRING YOUR GRILL OR A PICNIC BASKET AND CHAIRS… BARBECUE WILL ALSO BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE.
    IT’S 6 - 11 PM ON FRIDAY, JUNE 23rd, AT THE OLD LHS TRACK… NOW KNOWN AS “THE ROSS ABNEY COMPLEX”.

*   PLANNING IS UNDERWAY TO WELCOME 4 TO 8-THOUSAND PEOPLE INTO THE QUEEN CITY, AT THE UPCOMING “HONEYBEE FESTIVAL”… ON SATURDAY, JUNE 3rd.
    THE MAIN EVENT THAT EVENING IS A CONCERT FEATURING COUNTRY STAR CRAIG MORGAN AT 9:30.   EARLIER ENTERTAINERS INCLUDE “SONS OF SAILORS”, A JIMMY BUFFET TRIBUTE BAND… AND “STEPPIN STONES”, A PROGRESSIVE ROCK BAND.
    THE CITY IS BUSY PLANNING VENDOR LOCATIONS, ADVERTISING, PARKING AND SHUTTLES FOR THE CROWD.  THE MAIN STAGE WILL BE ON THE SQUARE NEAR THE BANK OF LAFAYETTE, FACING NORTH…. WITH DISPLAYS AND EVENTS LOCATED UP TO THE MARSH HOUSE.
    THE DAY WILL INCLUDE OVER 60 VENDORS WITH ARTS & CRAFTS AND FOOD, A BARBECUE COMPETITION, CRUISE-IN WITH ANTIQUE TRACTORS, A FREE KID’S ZONE WITH INFLATABLES AND A TRAIN RIDE AT JOE STOCK PARK, A BIRDS OF PREY EXHIBIT… AND OF COURSE, HONEYBEE EXHIBITS AND DEMONSTRATIONS.  THERE WILL ALSO BE AN ENTERTAINMENT ZONE AT THE MARS THEATER ON CHATTANOOGA STREET.
    THAT’S SATURDAY, JUNE 3rd ON THE SQUARE IN LAFAYETTE… 9 AM ’TIL 11 PM… FOR THE FIRST ANNUAL HONEYBEE FESTIVAL.  ADMISSION WILL BE FREE.


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