Catoosa County plans to renovate its decommissioned Fire Station 3 in the Graysville community after unanimously approving a construction contract Tuesday night, Jan. 2.
After discussing the matter in a pre-meeting work session, the board ultimately voted to partner with Chattanooga-based Chazler Inc. Construction, which offered the lowest proposal of the three collected bids.
"It was determined that Chazler Inc. was the lowest responsive bidder in connection with renovations to be constructed. However, there are some preliminary matters that must be addressed with both the architects and the county attorney," said County Attorney Skip Patty.
Patty says the company was the only one of the three that could do the work within the county's $725,000 budget. The two other bidders came in in the $750,000 range.
Now, the county plans to negotiate some of the details of the contract to see what other savings can be had before signing a pact and starting construction.
"It's proposed that we select the Chazler bid at price not to exceed $725,000, subject to contract review by the county attorneys and the construction conference between the architect and Chazler to make sure all of the subs (subcontractors) are subs that this board and the county are comfortable with," Patty said.
Issues with the station first arose four years ago when mold was found in the building. Since then, the commission has wrestled with what to do with the site while keeping firefighters out of the facility for safety concerns.
Commissioner Jim Cutler said the county has a good track record with Chazler Inc., having used the company in the past on two other stations in the county.
Chazler's bid included a six-month timetable for completion of the work. If all the details of the contract get worked out accordingly, officials say construction could begin as early as March.
Authorities continue to investigate an officer-involved shooting that left a Rossville man dead and lingering questions about the emergency phone call that led to the fatal incident.
In the early morning hours of New Year's Day, a woman called 911 saying that a female at a residence at 147 Meadowview Lane in Rossville was threatening to kill herself and her children, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the incident.
Three deputies arrived and announced several times that they were from the Walker County Sheriff's Department, authorities said.
Sixty-five-year-old Mark Parkinson was spotted in the kitchen carrying a handgun. Parkinson pointed the weapon at Deputy John Chandler, who then fired several shots, killing him Parkinson, authorities said. (Parkinson's obituary: Page A3)
Greg Ramey, special agent in charge at the GBI's Calhoun office, said Parkinson was seen in the kitchen, near a counter, and pointing a gun through a kitchen window at the deputy outside of the house, Ramey said.
Ramey said Parkinson was aware someone was outside the house.
Parkinson was in the kitchen 15-30 seconds before the deputy fired the shots, Ramey said. The encounter between Parkinson and Chandler was a quick exchange, he said.
Ramey said other family members in the residence were awake during the shooting and in relatively close proximity to the kitchen area where Parkinson was shot.
Ramey said lights were on inside the Parkinson residence, including the kitchen, at the time of the shooting. Also, outside motion-sensitive security lights were on, he said.
Chandler was less than a dozen feet from the window when he fired, Ramey said. Another deputy was to Chandler's right at a side door, while the third deputy was at the front door, he said.
Ramey said Chandler was not banging on the window, as has been reported by news organizations. He was banging on the structure of the residence, which is standard procedure, Ramey said.
Ramey said Dorothy Gass, the mother-in-law to the daughter of the victim, placed the 911 call. Investigators now have to determine if the call was made maliciously or in good faith.
Deputies on paid leave
According to Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, all three deputies are on administrative leave with pay.
Chandler began his career with the sheriff's department in April 2017, Wilson said.
Chandler served six years in law
enforcement prior to joining the Walker County Sheriff's Department. He served with the Chattooga County Sheriff's Department and the Polk County Police Department, Wilson said.
The three deputies will undergo critical incident stress debriefing, which is standard in such cases, Maj. Mike Freeman said.
The three deputies will remain on leave until the investigation is complete, Freeman said.
Attorney gives additional details
The attorney for a Parkinson's daughter, Amy Gass, said Amy was one of several family members inside the residence when three Walker County deputies arrived.
Attorney Larry Stagg of Ringgold is representing Amy Gass in her divorce from her estranged husband Steven Gass.
Stagg said that, at the time of the incident, five people were inside the house: Parkinson, his wife Diana, Amy and her two children, a 6-year-old and a 16-year-old. Amy and her children were staying with her parents during the divorce proceedings, he said.
Stagg said they were asleep when Parkinson heard their three dogs barking from inside the residence. Parkinson retrieved his firearm for protection, Stagg said. Parkinson and his wife Diana then went into the kitchen area and heard someone banging, Stagg said.
Within seconds, three shots were fired, with one striking Parkinson's jugular vein (throat area), causing him to bleed to death, the lawyer said.
Diana called for Amy to come downstairs and call 911, he said. Amy, a registered nurse, began to administer aid to her father by applying pressure to his neck, Stagg said.
Stagg said the family waited 3-5 minutes until paramedics and law enforcement arrived, believing that an unknown assailant had shot and killed Parkinson through the kitchen window. Stagg said no one in the family heard the knocking on the door or the three deputies announcing their arrival.
Stagg said Parkinson and Diana did not see law enforcement outside the residence and, to their knowledge, an unknown someone was simply banging at 3 a.m.
Stagg said Amy does not know why her mother-in-law called 911 and reported that she was threatening to kill herself and her children.
Stagg said family members say the three deputies did not enter the residence after the shots were fired. He said it's standard procedure, in such cases, for law enforcement to enter the residence to provide aid and secure the area.
When more law enforcement arrived after the Parkinsons called 911, no one told them it that a deputy had fired the fatal shots, Stagg said.
One hour later, Diana was taken to the Rossville Police Department to be interviewed, which is when she learned from the GBI that the shots that killed her husband came from Chandler, Stagg said.
"It's a horrible circumstance," Stagg said.
Past domestic dispute
Stagg said Amy's estranged husband, Steven Gass, is contesting the couple's divorce.
Amy was granted, in a hearing for temporary custody, full custody of the children, Stagg said. Steven was denied overnight stay with the children due to past erratic and abusive behavior toward his wife, he said.
According to an incident report by the Catoosa County Sheriff's Department:
A domestic disturbance occurred May 6, 2012, at the couple's residence on Cloud Springs Road in Rossville, in which Amy claims Steven was being aggressive late that evening, cursing her and began to grab her arm.
Amy told Steven he was hurting her, to which he replied, "I mean to" and began to push her, causing her to fall backwards and hit her arm on the kitchen counter.
Amy told police she was afraid of repercussions because her husband has multiple friends in Dade, Walker and Catoosa counties.
Damage to the residence was reported, including holes in the wall and damaged items inside the residence.
Police reported visible red marks and bruising on Amy. Due to pain following the incident, Amy had her arm X-rayed to make sure it was not broken.
The couple eventually reconciled, Stagg said.
The Ringgold City Council recently discussed making IT software available to the public that would allow residents the opportunity to connect with city staff to address immediate issues.
During the most recent council meeting on Dec. 11, Councilman Larry Black introduced the system and the possibility of it helping get community feedback to city staff quicker.
"It's an IT solution called iWorQ's Citizen Engagement software.
... What it is is an IT solution app that allows our citizens to report maintenance-type issues 24/7 by way of
their computer, iPhone, iPad, whatever," Black said. "It's for our residents and also our businesses. The way we would use it in the city, it would give us an IT method or solution to where if we had issues of fallen trees or broken water lines, or potholes, or anything our citizens saw out there or spotted, it'd be a quick way for them to relay that information to us 24/7."
Black explained that the system is computer-based and would offer a link on the city website, or residents could download an app.
"They would fill out the information and we would get the notification and respond to that," Black said.
Black says there is a cost involved for the software, but that it could make for a more efficient way of fielding complaints from the public.
"The estimated cost to implement something like that is about $900 per year," Black explained. "I just wanted to introduce it so y'all could research it. I looked at it today, and you have the information here if you want to look at exactly how it works. I definitely think it's something we should consider."
The system agreement does offer short-term annual contracts, meaning the city could take a trial run for a year and then evaluate it later to see if it's something it wanted to continue using.
Councilwoman Sara Clark wonders how many older residents would be inclined to use such software.
"My only question about this and every other IT thing that comes down the pike, ... are there are a lot of citizens in Ringgold that don't have that ability or if they have that ability, they need very clear layman's instructions to do it?" Clark said.
Clark's main concern is implementing such a system and then having a large portion of the city's population not be able to understand how to use it.
"I think we will always have both," Black replied. "There are those that are computer-proficient, but you would also have those who would rather just call City Hall and make the complaint personally."
Mayor Nick Millwood is of the opinion that most people would be able to navigate the app just fine.
"I would just say, anybody in my generation wouldn't have an issue downloading the app... you just take a picture and probably put a message...they make these things incredibly user-friendly,"
City Manager Dan Wright says one of the biggest pros for the system is that it would sync up with the iWorQ software the city already uses for work orders.
"It would be a seamless transition for us," Wright said. "If I entered a pothole request as a citizen, once that request is filled, then it should tell me, 'hey, that's been fixed'. The reason we proposed this particular one is because we use iWorQs currently to manage all of our work orders."
Wright pointed out that the system could streamline the city being informed about issues through the photo documentation rather than explaining it to city staff over the phone, and could benefit those who aren't able to drive to City Hall when the first notice the issue.
"The time saver I think we may see is when we have people calling in," Wright said. "If one of the ladies up front is trying to take the information, that can sometimes be very vague. If they (residents) take a picture, then we sort of know where we're going. They can submit online now, but then we have to take all that and enter it into our work order system anyway."
Wright added that he believes the system would also help sewer customers who live outside the city limits.
"It's not real handy to drive from Indian Springs to City Hall," he said.
Ultimately, no action was taken on the matter, however, it was included for the next meeting agenda scheduled for Jan. 8, giving the Council more time to research the pros and cons of the endeavor in a more indepth fashion.
More information about iWorQ Systems can be found at their website http://www.iworq.com.