Catoosa commissioners, in their first meeting of 2017, introduced new faces, while also adjusting the way they handle penalties and interest charges on ad valorem taxes.

The meeting, held Tuesday, Jan. 3, was the first under newly-elected chairman Steven Henry, who welcomed in the new Fire & Rescue chief, Randy Camp.

Camp replaces long-time chief Chuck Nichols, who retired at the end of 2016.

"I'm excited about the opportunity," Camp said. "It's great to be back home and I feel like I am home."

Camp lives in Catoosa County and has served in the same position as Walker County's fire chief for the past 15 years.

Another recently elected newcomer, Tax Commissioner Gary Autry, had adjustments made to how his office will handle penalties and interest fees on property taxes.

County Attorney Skip Patty proposed a resolution giving Autry the power to waive those charges for individuals if he sees fit.

"This would give the tax commissioner the ability to waive only the penalties and interest if the party's failure to pay was not due to willful neglect," Patty said.

In other words, Autry can decided on a case-by-case basis to waive those extra fees if a person accrued the extra debt due to some sort of hardship.

Patty said other counties like nearby Whitfield have this practice, but that long-time tax commissioner Sandra Self didn't want that responsibility, and left those decisions up to the Board of Commissioners.

"This resolution would prevent the board from having to handle each individual case," Patty said. "The tax commissioner would need to make a notation on each case and that would then become public record."

The board unanimously approved the resolution.

In other business during the meeting:

- Commissioner Jeff Long was appointed as vice-chairman of the board as per rotation.

- The board unanimously ratified county manager Jim Walker's hiring of Cartersville native Travis Barbee as Parks and Recreation director. Barbee currently holds the same position in Tazewell, Va., and will begin his position in Catoosa County on Feb. 6.

- The board unanimously accepted a donation of 7.67 acres of land from Burner Systems, Inc. across from Propex along Rollins Industrial Blvd, with the commission to be responsible only for the cost of the deeding process.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.