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Catoosa OKs roundabout plans for Warren Road

A new subdivision development is planned for the area of Warren Road in Catoosa County, and officials recently approved the developer's plans to upgrade the road to the new neighborhood.

During the Sept. 18 Board of Commissioner's meeting, officials discussed the plans, which include a roundabout at the intersection of Warren and Pine Grove roads.

"Some time back, the Planning Commission and then the Board of Commissioner's approved the rezoning and subdivision plat of a tract of land off of Warren Road for a proposed subdivision known as Pine Lakes subdivision," County Attorney Chad Young said. "Warren Road is a county road, but it is a substandard county road, and our ordinances require that anyone who develops off of a substandard road has to bring the road or the portion of the road they use up to county specifications per the Public Works Department's recommendation."

Commissioners unanimously approved the plans, which include the roundabout with a landscaped median.

Developer Todd Queen had his engineer from MAP Engineers incorporate the necessary changes into the plan, and then the design was reviewed by CTI Engineers on behalf of the county.

Young says any time there's a change to an intersection that includes installation of a traffic control device, whether it be signage — or a roundabout in this case — or a traffic signal, the board has to approve it.

The county also notified residents living near the area in question about the proposed road upgrades.

Resident Lisa Guerrini expressed concerns over wildlife in the area, as well as the safety of kids in the neighborhood.

"We have nesting hawks in that field that have been there for the past seven years that I've lived there," Guerrini said. "I hope this doesn't disturb them as long as with the turkeys and the deer, and several other things."

The road plans are the responsibility of and will be paid for by the developer. As for the landscaping in the roundabout median, it will be maintained by the home owner's association (HOA) that'll be created once the subdivision is complete. There will also be a dedicated left-hand turn lane to Pine Grove Road that will help with safety.

After seeing the design plans, some of Guerrini's concerns regarding children who are being picked up and dropped off by school buses were put at ease.

"It'll be much better this way because you're going to have more kids in that neighborhood, so that's a plus right there," Guerrini said.

Welcome, Publix!
• A new grocery store opens in Fort Oglethorpe.

Hundreds turned out early Wednesday morning, Oct. 10, for the grand opening of a Publix supermarket on Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe.

By 6:30 a.m., dozens of shoppers from Catoosa and Walker counties, as well as a few across the Georgia-Tennessee line from East Ridge and Chattanooga, waited in the morning mist and occasional light drizzle for the store's long-awaited opening.

About 7 a.m. Julie Turp, general manager of the massive store, welcomed the eager crowd and thanked everyone for their attendance, support and patience in waiting for this special day. Then she and Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Earl Gray cut the ceremonial ribbon, marking the store's grand opening.

Gray welcomed guests and the Publix team to town, saying, "This is a great day for this city." He called the new market "a great asset for our city."

Brenda Reid, media and community relations manager for Publix, said, "We are proud to bring the Publix shopping experience to Fort Oglethorpe."

The store encompasses 46,797 square feet and employees nearly 150 associates. It features a full-service meat department, produce department, full-service deli, bakery, full-service seafood department, and a full-service pharmacy.

The company is a South east chain with 1,199 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Ringgold council looking for solutions to homeless camping under bridge

Officials in Ringgold are discussing the possibility of implementing an ordinance to try to regulate "urban camping" after multiple residents have complained of people living under the bridge along U.S. Highway 41 next to Ingles grocery.

During the Oct. 8 City Council meeting, Councilman Larry Black presented the issue to the board and the public, saying that a handful of folks are permanently living under the bridge.

"The reason I put this on the agenda...I had a couple of complaints this past week of the people who are apparently living permanently under the bridge there beside Ingles," Black said. "We have some of the residents that live close by concerned about that and it looks like this group of people started on the other side near Babb Lumber Co. and then moved over to the city side and are there it looks like on a permanent basis under the bridge."

In the council agenda packet, there was a sample ordinance from another city of how it addresses those type issues.

Black suggested the board gather information and ordinances on how it's handled elsewhere and then formulate a course of action for Ringgold.

"We need to see if we do have a need to try to regulate this to try to stop the permanent camping on the streets, the sidewalks, or in this case, under the bridge," Black said. "Also, an ordinance to go right along with that to prohibit the storing of personal property and tents, backpacks, knapsacks, sleeping bags and things like that."

Black said that one of the first courses of action should be to create a dialogue with those under the bridge.

"Right along with the need for the ordinance, we want to go out and meet and talk to these people and have some kind of services available to them because as most people know, it's a situation where they are homeless apparently and have no place to go," Black said. "Hopefully we can go out and meet and offer some services as fall and winter are coming so we can address that."

Mayor Nick Millwood says the focus should be on how to help those in need.

"I think that would be an important aspect of that — making sure that we help them through the process to find options," Millwood said. "If we were to move in this direction, absolutely that's an important component — to make sure we're stepping them along the way and providing that help."

No official action was taken on the matter during Monday night's Council meeting. Black said he just wanted to make the board aware of the situation and possibly bring it back to the agenda in two weeks for the next meeting after the city has had time examine the issue further.

"We wanted to get it out there and educate our audience and the board of what the actual issues is," Black said. "The complaints came from our city residents who actually live right there close to this area and they are concerned about it."

As Black pointed out, those camping under the bridge aren't there by choice. They are there because they seem to have no other options available to them.

Tuesday morning, Oct. 9, Mayor Millwood posted on social media that he'd gone down to the bridge and met with a couple of the men living under it.

"Putting faces and stories to public policy debates makes decisions like this a lot more sobering," Millwood wrote. "I'm exploring ideas to find them a more permanent solution."

Millwood added that those staying there seemed to be doing OK food-wise through food stamps and Social Security benefits.

"I can't imagine being out there this winter," Millwood said.

'I think that would be an important aspect of that — making sure that we help them through the process to find options. If we were to move in this direction, absolutely that's an important component — to make sure we're stepping them along the way and providing that help.'

Nick Millwood Ringgold mayor

Ringgold purchases new radar equipment for Georgia State Patrol

The city of Ringgold recently voted to purchase new radar equipment for the Georgia State Patrol in order to help troopers better monitor speeds in town.

Lately, with road projects along Ga. 151 and I-75 in Ringgold, law enforcement officers have seen habitual speeding going on through construction zones.

"We have a 60-mph construction zone on I-75, and they're (police) pulling vehicles over going between 90 and 115 mph," City Manager Dan Wright said during the Sept. 24 City Council meeting. "This is in no way a fee-grabbing situation. This is about safety."

GSP Trooper First Class Brian Dedmon made a presentation at the council's work session prior to the meeting and explained how busy troopers have been in Ringgold, and how they could benefit from new radar equipment.

In August alone, troopers issued more than 650 citations in the city limits. That number was only a portion of the 1,800-plus that were issued in total by GSP, Ringgold PD, and the Catoosa County Sheriff's Office.

"It tells you a little bit about the weight the troopers are carrying inside our city," Wright said.

In his presentation, Dedmon requested four new DSR2X radars. The council ultimately voted to approve the purchase of two radars at a cost of $6,025, and then attempt to work the other two into next year's budget.

Dedmon says the new radars are just like any other equipment upgrade, ever-evolving.

"The new equipment will be mounted in the patrol vehicle," he said. "With technology today, the radars have upgrades from our older equipment — for example, an iPhone 4 compared to an iPhone 8. Just like the cellphone technology, improvements are made to speed detection devices such as Radar and Lidar (laser)."

Dedmon says Ringgold's willingness to help goes a long way. "With the new troopers that were just assigned to Dalton, this gives us an opportunity to put more speed detection units on the road," Dedmon said. "Without the city of Ringgold's help, we would have troopers on the road without the tools they need to enforce speeding violations."

Dedmon added that the citations written by GSP go to the jurisdiction (county or city) that the violation is observed in, meaning that the municipalities receive the revenue from citations, not the GSP.

Ringgold Police Chief Dan Bilbrey says he appreciates GSP's assistance in helping to combat the speeding issues in town.

"The GSP has been a big help, and they're doing a great job," Bilbrey said.