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City elections: And the candidates are ...

Qualifying is over for mayoral and council seats in the cities of Ringgold and Fort Oglethorpe. Here's who will be on the ballots in November.


Mayor: Ringgold voters will have three choices for mayor: incumbent Nick Millwood; Paul Lee, a pro wrestler and business owner; and Tony Hullender, a carpenter.

Council: Three council seats are available in this election. The top three vote-getters will fill the positions. Six candidates are seeking council seats: incumbent Sara Clark, who is retired; Jake Haynes, who serves on the Catoosa County Board of Education; Charlie A. Lamar, an engineer; Donald R. Pangle, a truck driver; Ray Reavely, semi-retired, works part-time as a bondsman; Rhonda Swaney, a speech-language pathologist.

Fort Oglethorpe

Mayor: There are two candidates running for mayor: incumbent Earl Gray, who works in marketing, is running against former councilman Louis Hamm, a pastor and retired plumber.

City Council: Two seats are available in this election. Voters can make a choice for each ward. Ward 1: incumbent Rhonda James, an accountant, and Melissa Jacks, a business and marketing teacher, will face each other for this seat. Ward 4: incumbent Derek Rogers will run unopposed.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

Officer arrested
• He is charged with sexual assault and false imprisonment.

Blake Ballew

A Ringgold police officer was arrested last week for alleged sexual assault.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, 27-year-old Blake Ballew of Dalton, was arrested Monday, Aug. 26, on charges of sexual assault, false imprisonment, and violation of oath by public officer. All three charges are felonies.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, a woman filed a report of sexual assault against Ballew with the Varnell Police Department.

Varnell police then contacted the GBI to assist with the investigation.

A source close to the investigation said Tuesday, Aug. 27, that Ballew has been terminated by the city of Ringgold. Ringgold officials declined to comment on the matter and referred all questions and inquiries to the GBI.

Ballew's arrest came after GBI agents conducted interviews, reviewed physical evidence in the case, and discussed the matter with the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit's District Attorney's Office.

For Catoosa and Walker counties for Aug. 1-14

Two locations in Catoosa and Walker counties received a score of 80 or below for health inspections conducted during the first half of August.

Park Place Restaurant in Fort Oglethorpe received a score of 80. The inspector noted that employees were handling washed lemons with bare hands, wearing jewelry while handling food, and ice scoops in dirty dishwater as opposed to the proper location.

The Subway on Main Street in LaFayette received a score of 71 after the inspector — during questions — noticed an overall lack of knowledge regarding employee health requirements and food safety procedures. The inspector also observed several employees failing to wash their hands, wearing jewelry that is not authorized (such as bracelets) while handling food, food stored at incorrect temperatures, and unwashed vegetables.

Ten locations in Catoosa and Walker counties earned a perfect score of 100.

Catoosa County

Park Place Restaurant

2891 LaFayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe

Inspection Date: Aug. 1

Score: 80

Inspector's notes: Observed food service employee slicing washed lemons with bare hands (9 points). Observed ice scoop being stored in container with dirty water (ice scoop holder is attached to the wall (4 points). Observed food service employee preparing food while wearing a wristwatch (3 points). Observed broken gaskets on reach-in prep cooler doors (1 point). Observed food-debris build-up on walls and floors throughout the kitchen area especially around food prep work areas and the three-compartment sink as well as the mechanical ware washing machine (1 point).

Battlefield Campground and RV Park

199 KOA Blvd., Ringgold

Inspection Date: Aug. 2

Score: 95

Inspector's notes: Observed no daily self check made available at time of inspection (5 points).

Cracker Barrel 562

50 Biscuit Way, Ringgold

Inspection Date: Aug. 2

Score: 97

Inspector's notes: Most current inspection report was not displayed (1 point). Observed food debris build-up on shelving units in walk-in cooler (1 point). Observed several boxes and spilled food on floors in walk-in freezer (1 point).

Kentucky Fried Chicken (Alabama Highway)

5387 Alabama Highway, Ringgold

Inspection Date: Aug. 5

Score: 98

Inspector's notes: Dishes stacked while they were still wet from washing (1 point). Observed food splatter on walls behind dunnage racks in chicken breading area (1 point).

Holiday Trav-L Park (Swimming Pool)

1623 Mack Smith Road, Rossville

Inspection Date: Aug. 5

Score: 96

Inspector's notes: Observed 3 out of 4 skimmers with no weir that adjusts with the water level (4 points).

Bailey's BBQ

5540 Highway 41, Ringgold

Inspection Date: Aug. 5

Score: 87

Inspector's notes: Observed improper vertical storage in glass door reach-in cooler (raw beef stored over cooked pork) and in the walk-in cooler (a container of cooked chicken in contact with container of raw pork) (9 points). Observed wet sanitizer cloths being stored outside of sanitizer solution (3 points). Observed scoop stored with the handle not above the top of the food within the container of sugar (1 point). Observed equipment and utensils being dried with a cloth and not being properly air-dried (1 point).

Your Pie

3809 Battlefield Parkway, Fort Oglethorpe

Inspection Date: Aug. 7

Score: 100

City of Ringgold, Martha Denton Pool

406 Cotter St., Ringgold

Inspection Date: Aug. 7

Score: 100

Spencer B's BBQ

6581 Highway 41, Ringgold

Inspection Date: Aug. 7

Score: 95

Inspector's notes: Observed bucket of sanitizer solution with wiping towels not labeled (4 points). Observed grease build-up on hood vent (1 point).

Battlefield Golf Club

285 Cannon Drive, Ringgold

Inspection date: Aug. 8

Score: 95

Inspector's notes: Person in charge was unable to describe any of the symptoms of a food born illness or what any of the six food borne illnesses are (4 points). Observed broken gaskets in reach-in double door freezer causing ice accumulation in freezer (1 point).

Super 8 Fort Oglethorpe (swimming pool)

2044 LaFayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe

Inspection date: Aug. 13

Score: 100

Cloud Springs Deli

4097 Cloud Springs Road, Ringgold

Inspection date: Aug. 14

Score: 98

Inspector's notes: Observed hand-washing sink coming loose from wall and the drywall behind sink is in disrepair (1 point). Observed an abundance of excess equipment and utensils not in use (1 point).

Hometown Inn Pool

22 Gateway Business Park Drive, Ringgold

Inspection date: Aug. 14

Score: 94

Inspector's notes: : Observed no minimum of 4 feet of unobstructed walkway being maintained at all times (2 points). Observed one of the skimmer weirs did not adjust with the water level (4 points).

The Big Biscuit Barn

1389 LaFayette Road, Rossville

Inspection date: Aug. 14

Score: 96

Inspector's notes: Observed cream cheese being used past manufacturer expiration date (3 points). Observed floor fans in use that were not clean to sight or touch (had dust debris build-up on the covers) (1 point).

Walker County

Rafael's Italian Restaurant

150 Pearl Drive, LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 5

Score: 92

Inspector's notes: Observed milk and noodles not date marked. Had pic discard food not date marked and explained proper date marking instructions (4 points). Observed missing thermometer in large prep cooler. Had pic hang thermometer in front of rack by the door to be visible (3 points). Observed condensation drain leaking in small prep cooler. Had pic repair drain (1 point).

Subway (Wal Mart)

2625 Highway 27, LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 5

Score: 100

Subway (Rock Springs Food Inc)

8175 Highway 27, LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 8

Score: 96

Inspector's notes: Observed expired serve safe document (4 points).

Chattanooga Valley Elementary

3420 Chattanooga Valley Road, Flintstone

Inspection date: Aug. 9

Score: 100

The Dinner Bell

3258 Chattanooga Valley Road, Flintstone

Inspection date: Aug. 9

Score: 100

Subway (LaFayette)

108 North Main St., LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 9

Score: 71

Inspector's notes: During questions, observed an overall lack of knowledge about Employee Health reporting requirements, temperature control, and Food Safety procedures (4 points). Observed Food Service unaware of when to wash hands. Observed several instances of staff changing gloves without washing hands (9 points). Observed an open drink container sitting on the shelf in the storage area. Some food products are located on this shelving (4 points). Observed potentially hazardous food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Observed various sliced deli meats, cheese, veggies above 41 degrees due to the lids staying off of the products all day (9 points). Observed meatballs not held at 104-128 degrees (9 points). Observed food employee wearing jewelry other than a plain ring on their hands/arms while preparing food. Observed a food service employee wearing a bracelet that was hanging down into the food during prep (3 points). Raw fruits/vegetables not washed prior to preparation. Observed whole tomatoes not being washed prior to slicing (3 points).

LaFayette High School

Round Pond Road, LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 12

Score: 100

North LaFayette Elementary

610 N. Duke St., LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 12

Score: 100

Chattanooga Valley Middle

847 Allgood Road, Flintstone

Inspection date: Aug. 13

Score: 96

Inspector's notes: Observed the dish machine not making it to 180 degrees on the rinse cycle. Kitchen staff was aware of the problem, had reported it to the maintenance crew (4 points).

Naomi Elementary

4036 East Highway 136, LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 13

Score: 100

Old South Restaurant

796 Chickamauga Avenue, Rossville

Inspection date: Aug. 13

Score: 91

Inspector's notes: Observed cook changing tasks with gloves and not handwashing in between tasks. Discussed when to wash hands and the owner is going to install a new hand sink closer to the cooking station (9 points).

Key West Inn

2221 N. Main St., LaFayette

Inspection date: Aug. 14

Score: 100

Compiled by reporter Jordan Mooney

Kick off the fall season with all-day family-friendly festivities on Sept. 21

The city of LaFayette is celebrating the beginning of the fall season with the second annual "Autumn Rocks Day" on Saturday, Sept. 21.

Autumn Rocks Day will include a golf tournament, the annual Fly-In, Heritage festivities, hayrides, inflatables and a tailgate party in the evening that will include a beer garden.

The event is free to attend and will last all day.

Harvest time

Throughout history, autumn is celebrated as a time where the harvest comes to an end for the year as crops are stored for the coming winter.

The leaves begin to fall, the days become shorter as day and night become equal in length. The temperature cools as the earth begins the transition from summer to winter.

In astrology, autumn is a time to be one with nature and all life forms as the sun moves into Libra.

Celebrating Autumn Rocks Day gives the community a chance to come together and be delighted in the way the city of LaFayette has thrived in 2019. This is akin to how our forefathers reaped the benefits from all of their hard work harvesting what was planted in the spring.

Golf tournament

Autumn Rocks Day will begin with the inaugural Autumn Rocks two-person scramble golf tournament kicking off at 9 a.m. at the LaFayette Golf Course. The entry fee for each team is $80 and includes lunch. Prizes will be awarded to the winners.

The closest to the pin on hole No. 14 in each group will qualify for a $1,000 shootout.

The hole-in-one shootout will be Saturday evening on hole No. 18 from 100 yards, with a $1,000 cash prize. Multiple winners are possible, and the cash prize will be split among the winners.

To register, sign up at the LaFayette Golf Course Pro Shop located at 1 Fred Henry Drive.


The annual Fly-In at the LaFayette Airport will now be a part of Autumn Rocks Day with a start time of 10 a.m. and will last until 4 p.m.

Come out to the LaFayette Airport and enjoy vintage airplanes, as well as modern-day aircraft, helicopter rides and free inflatables for the kids.

The Al Millard Walker County Stocking Full of Love will also be on hand providing refreshments. Proceeds from the refreshments will go towards the Stocking Full of Love program.

Intro to caving

There will be an introduction to wild caving, where interested parties will meet during the Fly-In at the Pigeon Mountain Grotto booth. Interested parties need to meet at the booth shortly before 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. departure times, so arrive a few minutes early for this outdoor adventure.

Each group will follow in caravan style to the Horseshoe Cave in Chickamauga for a spelunking experience with caving guides.

Anyone under 18 is required to be accompanied by an adult.

Dress should consist of long pants and sturdy shoes, and knee pads are encouraged. Helmets and lights will be provided.

Spaces are limited to the first 30 people, with 10 in each group. Bring a clean set of clothes to change into after the caving adventure as the caves are tight and muddy. Call 706-639-1590 to register. If you have questions, text Sara Keys at 423-413-3067.

Heritage at the Marsh House

The Marsh House in LaFayette will be celebrating our heritage with period-style activities lasting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Come out and get a taste of our heritage and local, historical culture at the historic Marsh House in LaFayette.

Tailgate party

On Saturday evening, it's tailgate party time at the LaFayette Golf Course.

We will enjoy some college football on a large, outdoor multi-sided television display as the Georgia Bulldogs take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Be sure to bring your lawn chair and enjoy some college football as kick-off starts at 8 p.m.

The Autumn Rocks 5K Run will begin at 6 p.m. There is a $25 registration fee that includes a T-shirt for the event. The registration proceeds will go towards the LaFayette Parks & Recreation youth program. Visit to register for the 5K Run.

We will also have a live music performance by For Love Or Money from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. You will be able to fill yourself up on plenty of barbecue and tailgate food.

A beer garden will be available for attendees over 21 years old. The golf course will host tailgate games like corn hole, giant Jenga and much more.

There will also be activities for kids, including free inflatables, hayrides and shelter building, so there is something for everyone.

The Autumn Rocks Day event is organized by LaFayette Parks & Recreation, the LaFayette "Hive," LaFayette Golf Course, LaFayette Outdoor Adventures and Walker Rocks.

It's harvest time, so come on out to the city of LaFayette Autumn Rocks Day!