Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield on Friday, March 17, hosted his first "Lunch Conversation." It was held at La Familia Mexican Restaurant in Rossville.

Small business owners, concerned citizens — including those from the Wilson Road Neighborhood Group (WRNG) — as well as a few county employees visited the local establishment to enjoy a meal and get a chance to address the commissioner.

Those in attendance raised concerns over blighted residential and business properties in not only the county portion of Rossville, but the city as well.

As far as the county is concerned, Whitfield discussed the new additional days added to garbage detail, going door-to-door to meet with owners of blighted property, and being more pro-active.

"We are not going to wait for the phones to ring. We are going to do this by zones and we are going to take certain sections of our county and we are not going to be where we are spot enforcing. We are going to go door-to-door and make sure every street we go through, we are going to look at every parcel, every property to make sure that the whole community is in compliance," Whitfield said. "So we are going from one person doing 100 percent code enforcements to three people come the first week of April doing full-time code enforcement."

Whitfield said a second building inspector vehicle has been added to the county, and a third building inspector is coming soon.

"Those building inspectors will also be able to do code enforcements when they do not have building inspections to do," he said.

Whitfield told the crowd he is receiving strong support to clean up the north portion of the county and is encouraging residents to get involved with the Adopt-a-Highway program by contacting county Public Relations Director Joe Legge.

Whitfield said more than 12,000 pounds of garbage was removed from county roads between January and February.

"That's six tons of trash and that did not include the tires. Those tire are separate," he said. "We have taken in over 200 tires — I believe it was — on top of that. So March is probably going to be a bigger month than what we saw January and February. That's been one person working with county inmates."

The person heading up codes, inspections, planning and zoning is newly hired director David Brown, who was also in attendance.

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at jobryant@npco.com.