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Labor Day car show Sept. 3 at Civic Center

The annual Labor Day car show benefitting the Al Millard Memorial Stocking Full of Love will be Monday, Sept. 3, at the Walker County Civic Center.

In addition to the car show, a gravy and biscuit breakfast will be available, as well as lunch with grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and BBQ sandwiches.

Silent auctions and a raffle at the car show will also benefit the Stocking Full of Love program.

On Sunday evening, a Sock Hop with Paul Smith and the Sky High Band will be held at the Civic Center, beginning a 7 p.m. The event will include a best 50s dance contest, a hula hoop contest, and a best 50s dress contest.

Vehicle registration for the car show is $15 before Aug. 31 and $20 after that and on the day of the show. Non-food vendor spaces are available for the show at $25.

For more information, call 706-638-1909, ext. 1276, or email

The Walker County Civic Center is on US Hwy 27 just north of Rock Spring, Ga.

Hearings set on new property tax rate
City residents would pay slightly more

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield plans three public hearings in August to provide residents with an opportunity to learn more about how the millage (property tax) rate may impact them.

The proposed 2019 budget includes the same millage rate as last year for residents in the unincorporated areas of Walker County. However, due to the tax digest formula, city residents will experience a slight property tax increase of 0.177 mills, or 1.35%. The adjustment works out to be $7.64 on a home worth $100,000. The adjustment for non-homestead property with a fair market value of $75,000 will be $6.03.

"We continue to show significant progress toward our goal of financial recovery," Whitfield said. "In the past year, we've reduced our debt, operated on a fiscally responsible balanced budget and charted a course to enhance our sales tax base through the Walker Rocks tourism initiative. I appreciate the outstanding teamwork of our county employees and the shared sacrifices we have all endured, as we continue on a path to growth."

Hearings will take place on these dates and at these times/locations:

Thursday, Aug. 23, at 6 p.m.– Walker County Courthouse Annex III (201 South Main St., LaFayette)

Thursday, Aug. 30, at 10 a.m.– Walker County Civic Center (10052 US-27, Rock Spring)

Thursday, Aug. 30, at 6 p.m.– Walker County Courthouse Annex III (201 South Main St., LaFayette)

• The millage rate will be adopted at a special called commissioner's meeting on Aug. 30 following the third public hearing.

Milage Rate Hearings

WHEN: Thursday at 6 p.m.; Aug. 30 at 10 a.m. & 6 p.m.

WHERE: 6 p.m. at Walker County Courthouse Annex II; 10 a.m. at Walker County Civic Center

Ordinance aims to spruce up downtown Rossvile

Driving through Rossville, one is unfortunately struck by the empty storefronts and deteriorating buildings. Businesses considering moving into the city see these also.

That's why the City Council has passed an ordinance aimed at making the downtown business district "more urban and aesthetically pleasing."

The ordinance, passed Aug. 13, requires that the front of new businesses and buildings have doors or windows and be on a public street. It also designates where parking lots may be located and covers the location and size of signs businesses may erect.

In addition, the ordinance bans some businesses such as car washes, gas stations, auto dealerships, auto garages and detailing shops, and storage facilities from the downtown business district.

Existing businesses are grandfathered in and are exempt from the ordinance guidelines, but they will apply to all new businesses coming into downtown Rossville.

Winds of change
Keep sole commissioner or go with a multi-member board?

Shannon Whitfeild

One of the most important local political issues and votes in years will be on the November ballot as Walker County residents decide whether to keep the sole commissioner form of government or move to a board with four district commissioners and a chairman.

Residents and politicians alike have increasingly discussed and debated this idea for years. The key issue is, how many people should lead the county and how should the power, influence, and responsibilities of running the county be assigned or divided?

Currently, Walker County is one of only eight counties in Georgia that has a sole commissioner making the day-to-day decisions.

The seeds of the ballot initiative go back to at least 2014, when the blog LaFayette Underground started an online petition, asking the local delegation of House representatives and Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) to put the referendum on the ballot, so they could vote on changing the government structure. The petition gained 1,800 signatures, but the lawmakers did not draft a bill.

In 2015, at the county's Republican Party Convention, delegates voted, 57-53, against putting the issue up on a referendum. In October 2015, the Walker County Republican Party voted to put a non-binding referendum on the issue on the upcoming primary election ballot. This would allow them to take the pulse of voters. Then in May 2016, about 75 percent of the about 6,000 voters said they supported switching from a sole commissioner to a board of commissioners.

"The vote was crystal clear. The citizens of Walker County want a board of commissioners, and they are looking for Shannon Whitfield to be the last sole commissioner of Walker County," stated Whitfield after the straw vote.

"People have lost confidence and trust in the sole (commissioner) form of government because we've not had transparency and accountability for a long time in Walker County government," Whitfield said. "I think a 75% straw vote in favor of a board of commissioners sends a very clear directive to our local delegation. I'm calling on both parties to now pass a resolution supporting the vote, and I call on the legislative delegation to honor the vote by putting the question on the ballot in 2018. I very much look forward to working with Senator Mullis and Representatives Tarvin and Deffenbaugh on this issue."

In May 2017, Sen. Mullis, with Senate Bill 292, and Reps. Steve Tarvin (R-Chickamauga) and John Deffenbaugh (R-Lookout Mountain), with House Bill 615, introduced legislation to let Walker County residents decide if they wanted to keep the current sole commission form of government or change to a multi-member board. The House voted on the bill, along with other local acts affecting other parts of the state, passing it 150-0. The bill also passed the Senate 52-1.

If the referendum changing the county's governing structure to a commission passes in November, the new board of commissioners will consist of five members: four who are elected from their home districts, as well as a chairperson elected by everyone in the county. Each district would include one incorporated city in Walker County: Lookout Mountain, Rossville, Chickamauga, and LaFayette.

The four part-time district commissioners would draw a $12,000 annual salary, while the full-time commission chairman would draw a salary of the highest paid elected county official plus an additional $500 with an amount that doesn't exceed $100,000 per year.

Now, after nearly five years, the seeds of change have germinated through discussion and have grown into the referendum that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. If voters approve that referendum, county residents will vote for multiple commissioners in 2020. Those new commissioners would assume office starting Jan. 1, 2021.

By the numbers

Eight of Georgia's 159 counties have a sole commissioner form of government. Besides Walker, they are:

Bartow, Bleckley, Chattooga, Murray, Pulaski, Towns and Union.

Most of the counties are small and rural, with Bartow and Walker being the exceptions.

Bartow has a population of more than 100,000 while Walker's population is nearly 70,000.

The other six counties have populations ranging from about 10,500 (Towns) to about 40,000 (Murray).