The drugs seized at a Rossville residence on June 28 had a potential street value of nearly $250,000, including nearly $200,000 worth of meth and $48,000 in heroin, says DeWayne Brown, commander of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, which spearheaded the drug bust.
The drug task force seized 9 pounds of meth and arrested two people at 819 Park City Road. The task force also confiscated 8 ounces of heroin, 24 grams of psilocybin (mushrooms), a firearm and $1,300 cash.
The task force, which serves Walker, Catoosa, Dade and Chattooga counties, worked in cooperation with deputies from the Walker County Sheriff's Office road patrol division.
Arrested and charged were: Kimberly Grayson, 49, Rossville, charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in heroin, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; Matthew Showalter, 47, Signal Mountain, Tennessee, charged with trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in heroin, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime. Showalter has outstanding felony warrants in Hamilton County, Tennessee, for guns charges.
According to Brown, the 9 pounds of methamphetamine seized in the bust equals about 4,082 grams. Each pound of meth contains 453.59 grams of the drug.
Meth is often sold to individual users in what is known as an 8-ball, a package containing 3.5 grams of the drug (about one-eighth of an ounce). That 3.5-gram buy will cost the individual as much as $150. So if eight 8-balls were purchased, the illegal buy would total 1 ounce in size, yet cost $1,000.
Cmdr. Brown and those who participated in the Rossville drug bust confiscated as many as 1,275 8-balls of meth, not just eight. That's a total street value of $191,343, which could have adversely impacted 1,275 individual buyers, Brown said.
Meth easily available
"It is just so much easier to get the crystal meth now because it is coming out of Mexico," Brown said. "And it is less expensive. They ship it here in liquid form and then a conversion lab turns it into the end product that is sold."
While metro-Atlanta serves as the main conversion lab location for those in the drug trade, LaFayette had such a conversion lab in operation in August 2018. It has since been dismantled by law enforcement, thanks to the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force and its fellow law enforcement agency, the Walker County Sheriff's Office.
More heroin, too
The Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force commander said there is a "huge increase in heroin right now, too, due to the (prescription) pills being harder to get."
According to Brown, the crack-down on doctors who were writing unwarranted prescriptions, coupled with the greater oversight and monitoring programs for pill purchases, has served to diminish pill availability.
That, therefore, is driving up demand for other forms of heroin to purchase for illegal use, like the pure heroin confiscated in the Rossville drug bust.
Pure heroin is heroin not cut with any other product, such as fentanyl. Fentanyl-laced heroin and other synthetic opioids have been blamed for more than 28,000 overdose deaths nationwide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Brown said the Rossville bust did not include confiscation of any fentanyl-laced heroin.
Like meth, heroin isn't cheap. A person can expect to pay $150 for 3.5 grams of meth, but the same person would have to pay $200 per one gram of heroin, Brown said.
In the Rossville bust, the task force and sheriff's office deputies confiscated 226.8 grams of heroin. One ounce of heroin equals 28.35 grams. The 8 ounces confiscated by the drug task force totaled 226.8 grams that have a street value of about $48,000.
In addition to the meth and heroin removed by Walker County's Sheriff's Office during the drug bust conducted with the task force, the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit drug agency also removed 24 grams of Psilocybin (mushrooms).
One ounce of these "shrooms," as they are called, cost as much as $200.
These drugs, which Brown says are more psychedelic in nature (causing thought, vision, and auditory changes due to serotonin impact), are mostly sold in ounce quantities and produce LSD-type effects.
Total drug street value
Almost a quarter-million dollars worth of meth, heroin and shrooms were confiscated in the Rossville bust.
Brown says meth, heroin and other drugs continue to be a threat to the community. The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, in cooperation with the Walker County Sheriff's Office — and all other agencies in the judicial circuit, continues to make the dismantling of conversion labs and the arrest of drug dealers and manufacturers (and confiscation of illegal drugs) its No. 1 priority, he said.
IF YOU HAVE INFORMATION ...
If you know of someone who is manufacturing or selling drugs, call the task force at 706-638-5570.
Ringgold is getting closer to seeing its courthouse streetscape project come to fruition after awarding a bid of more than $300,000 for the work.
Over the past few months, city officials have discussed and planned upgrades to the downtown block that surrounds the Catoosa County Courthouse in order to make the area more appealing and more accessible.
Ringgold officials first introduced the plan in November and have since received the blessing of the county's Board of Commissioners to make the adjustments around the courthouse.
During the June 10 council meeting, City Manager Dan Wright revealed the details of the bidding and gave a recommendation that was subsequently approved unanimously by the board.
"The bids were opened on June 6 and Integrated Properties LLC was the lowest responsible bidder," Wright said. "This project will have to be funded from our General Fund balance and the total is $320,768.88.
Although still a significant sum, the bid comes in about $15,000 less than the $335,000 estimate the city had in mind for the work.
Wright said the city was worked with the company before on multiple projects.
"Integrated Properties has worked with the city before," Wright said. "They did excellent work and we had no issues with them. They've also been a subcontractor on the Barger Bridge Project. They did a lot of the concrete work on that particular project."
Prior to the vote, the board considered a letter of recommendation for Integrated Properties from project engineer Philip Schofield.
Some highlights of the project
The project is aimed at creating more parking, new crosswalks, and helping traffic congestion. The project also includes removal of a gas pump along Maple Street currently used to fill up county vehicles, and then making the street a one-way. Jail Street will likewise become a one-way, in addition to the newly revamped crosswalks, green spaces, and additional parking.
Although the work is a city project, the courthouse is a county-owned building, so the county Board of Commissioners has been kept in the loop about the project from the beginning.
"We've run this through the Catoosa County Board of Commissioners and the judges and folks that work out of the courthouse to make sure they didn't have any issues," Wright said. "Everybody, not just DOT, is in agreement that this plan will work. It will provide additional parking. It'll beautify the area, and it will make the pedestrian area downtown so much better."
Both Wright and the council envision the new streetscape project to be an extension of the downtown streetscape of a few years ago that revitalized the historic downtown block from Tennessee Street to Depot Street.
There's no start date or timetable for the project set in stone as of now, but Wright says an initial meeting for the work should begin soon.
"We haven't had the pre-construction meeting yet and the contracts haven't been executed," Wright said. "It usually takes 30 days just to get all the insurance and bonds in place."
Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009.
Patriotism at the Post drew a large crowd of folks, many bedecked in red, white and blue clothes, hats and accessories, to the historic polo field on Barnhardt Circle in Fort Oglethorpe on July 3 to celebrate the 243rd birthday of the United States of America.
The celebration, coordinated by Chris McKeever, director of the 6th Cavalry Museum, included a chalk art competition with guests coming in from other cities, a Patriotic Kids costume contest, music by the Tabernacle Big Band, food, free U.S. flags from Heritage Funeral Home, and an inflatables play zone for children. Battlefield Community Seventh Day Adventist Church gave away free glow sticks, tattoos and two bicycles and helmets.
Flintstone Boy Scout Troop 316 presented the colors before the Tabernacle Big Band led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and invited the crowd to sing along as they played patriotic music.
There were food vendors, including the Chattanooga Valley Lions Club frying up their specialty pork rinds.
McKeever said sponsors of this year's Patriotism at the Post were North Georgia Electric Membership Corporation Operation Round-Up, First Volunteer Bank, Callahan Mechanical, and Chattanooga Trailer.
The chalk art at the event is becoming a signature feature for Fort Oglethorpe. Chalk artist guests this year included a number of people who also organize chalk art events and teach the skill. Artist Zach Herndon, from Atlanta, pioneered the Pop-Up Chalk Festival concept and teaches classes and workshops. He has traveled to festivals in numerous states and in Germany and Italy.
Herndon graced the street at this year's Patriotism at the Post with a reproduction of a painting by Bradshaw Crandell called "Into the Wild Blue Yonder."
Artist Heather Cap is another who has participated in Fort Oglethorpe chalk art events in the past. She, too, organizes events and teaches classes. She chalked a scene of a petrified forest on Barnhardt Circle.
Brittany Williams of Griffin, Ga., chalked Paul Revere furiously riding his horse to alert the patriots that the British were coming.
Melissa Lohr, who was the adult chalk artist winner at Patriotism at the Post, drew a patriotic T-Rex, and Natalie Enzmann, the youth winner of the contest, drew the character Fival from "An American Tale."
The evening ended with a spectacular fireworks display celebrating another year of American freedom. "Where liberty dwells," said Benjamin Franklin, who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, "there is my country."
Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.