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Independence Day celebrations
Freedom Festival is Friday, June 30; Patriotism at The Post is Monday, July 3

Celebrating the birth of the United States takes center stage at the 11th annual "Patriotism at The Post" concert and fireworks show slated to take place at historic Barnhardt Circle Monday, July 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m.

The festivities include a patriotic concert and sing-a-long, food, kid's activities, coloring contest and the naming of the Most Patriotic Boy and Girl, followed by fireworks at dark.

Children, ages 10 and younger, can compete by dressing in their patriotic best wearing red, white and blue, and prizes will be awarded. The Patriotic Kid's coloring contest winners will also be announced during the opening ceremonies. Boy Scout Troop 316 from Flintstone will present the colors at the opening ceremony.

Tabernacle Big Band will headline the concert with their 1940s-era band of trumpets, trombones, saxophones and rhythm section. The band performs jazz and patriotic arrangements as well as "Glenn Miller" style swing music.

The patriotic singa-long encourages the audience to join in with song sheets available. All military veterans are recognized and asked to stand when their branch of service song is played during the "Service Salute."

"The Army Post at Fort Oglethorpe played a huge role in the development of our nation," said Chris McKeever, director of the 6th Cavalry Museum and member of the Fort Oglethorpe Tourism Association. "What better place to celebrate our nation's birth than here on the polo field with great music, family fun and fireworks."

Patriotism at The Post is free to attend but there is a $5-per-car parking fee.

Modern Woodmen of America, a member-owned fraternal financial services organization has awarded a community matching grant to support Patriotism at The Post. Liberty Baptist Church is sponsoring kid's activities and games and Apex Inflatables will have bounce houses for the kids to enjoy for a charge. Cornerstone Medical Center is providing shuttle service for those who need extra help getting onto the polo field and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School's Football team is also volunteering.

More information about the event can be found online at, on Facebook or by calling 706-861-2860.

"One Walker" showcases Chickamauga

One Walker is a Walker County Chamber of Commerce program that brings leaders of local businesses and governments together to share a meal while highlighting one of the county's four municipalities.

Chickamauga was the featured city during the quarterly meeting held June 20 in the chapel on the grounds of that town's historic Gordon Lee Mansion.

City Councilman Lee Miller offered a brief overview of Chickamauga's past, its present and its vision for the future.

School Superintendent Melody Day described two ongoing projects: a total renovation of the existing middle school and construction of a replacement for Gordon Lee High School — one that replicates the building that has served students for more than 80 years.

County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield then recapped some of the high — and low — points of his first six months in office.

Miller described how Chickamauga, a farming community with a population of 95 when founded in 1891, is today home to about 3,100 and "we're now a four red-light town."

Not only has the town added traffic control devices, Miller noted there now are 15 restaurants within the city limits, a medical clinic and a core of commercial businesses.

Chickamauga is more than a quiet bedroom community, he said. The town celebrates several annual events: Down Home Days, the Blue & Gray Barbeque, has a Pumpkin

Festival in the fall and Christmas in the Streets. In addition to the seasonal activities, Miller said the city holds monthly movies-under-the-stars nights at the Holland-Watson Park and First Friday concerts.

Adding to the mix of activities, Miller said the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum makes the town a stop on its regular steam train excursions and the Ironman brings that triathlon competition's cycling leg through town twice each year.

"What'll it be like in the future?" he asked, before describing plans — developed in conjunction with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government — for sustainable growth.

While Miller's described a vision, a possibility for the future, Day spoke about brick-and-mortar modernization currently underway at two of the city's three schools.

The superintendent explained how voters, by a 3-1 margin, in 2016 approved a referendum to one school and revamp the other.

Day said that the day after the school year ended, the middle school's interior was razed and its total refurbishment was begun. She said crews are working long hours and weekends to assure the project is completed within an eight-week time frame — the school must be ready before classes resume.

Construction of a replacement for the high school began last year and will continue until the second semester of the 2017-18 school year. This year's high school class will start in the old school and be the first to graduate from the new building, Day said.

In addition to demolition of the old and construction of the new, Gordon Lee had its evaluation, given every five years, for state accreditation, she said. Day said those doing the evaluation were so impressed with the school and its progress that they asked to attend dedication ceremonies when construction of the new high school is complete.

While the school superintendent has been dealing with construction disruption for about a year, Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield, during the six months since his swearing in, has been trying to bring order to the county's chaotic financial situation.

Among the most exciting things to occur has been a private developer's commitment to invest more than $100 million to build Canyon Ridge Resort atop Lookout Mountain.

"This will be the greatest single investment in the county's history," Whitfield said. "This will be a real 'shot in the arm' for Walker County."

The commissioner said "everything is moving forwards" and that developer Duane Horton is in the process of securing financing and working out details that will allow construction to commence.

But the "destination resort" might not be the only bright spot on the county's horizon. Whitfield said several other— ones he described as 'tire kickers' — companies continue to look toward Walker County as a place to either build or relocate a business.

But new industry will only come after a protracted period of negotiations, and the newly installed commissioner must deal with a myriad of problems that need immediate action.

Whitfield described his job as, "Trying to identify problems and find solutions."

Among the most pressing problems, at least at the time of the One Walker luncheon, is addressing issues of water infiltration into the waste water sewers and the huge financial burden that places on the county.

Each month, Walker County Water and Sewerage Authority buys about 12 million gallons of water from Tennessee American Water Company for use in the northern end of the county. But the county is now being billed for water returned for treatment at the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant, which means the county will be charged for 103 million gallons.

Whitfield said "we can't live without water" so addressing aging infrastructure as it relates to waste water treatment must be apriority, but it is only one among many problems facing leaders of local government, whether at the municipal, county, state or national level.

"This (job) is the ultimate challenge," he said.

Lkt. Mtn.Judicial Circuit to establish adult felony drug court: expected to hear cases early this fall

Lookout Mountain Judicial District Chief Judge Kristina Cook Graham announced that the State of Georgia has fully funded the Circuit's request of $148,166 to plan and implement the region's first Drug Court.

Over the last several months, Judge Graham and Judge Don Thompson have established a working team to make plans for the new Court. Judge Thompson will preside over the Court, while Judge Graham will preside in his absence or in cases that may require his recusal. Deanna Reisman and Vickie Clark of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District D.A.'s Office have been appointed to serve as prosecutors, while David Dunn and Amber Connell of the Circuit Public Defender's Office will provide defense counsel.

A Drug Court Coordinator will soon be hired to oversee the entire program and coordinate team efforts. In addition, the working team is consulting with various treatment providers. Once the team is established, they will receive extensive training from the State of Georgia at the Council for Accountability Court Judges Annual Training Conference in Athens, Georgia.

Judge Graham said, "The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Adult Felony Drug Court will address the needs of habitual users. Using a team approach that includes weekly court appearances, random drug screenings, comprehensive treatment, and vocational and educational efforts, those completing the program have a strong likelihood of abstaining from drugs and alcohol use and avoiding further criminal prosecution."

Judge Thompson recently attended the Georgia Council for Superior Court Judges Accountability and Treatment Courts Committee Retreat. In addition, members of the team have visited several Accountability Court Programs to observe methods and

procedures, including those in the Conasauga Circuit (Dalton) and the Northeastern Circuit (Gainesville).

Judge Thompson noted that Judge Graham recently attended a conference in Atlanta entitled, "Drugs in America: What Every Judge Needs to Know", focusing on the science of addiction and the proper medical and judicial responses to the challenges of addiction. Next month, she will attend the National Association of Drug Court Personnel Conference in Washington, D.C., the world's largest conference on accountability treatment courts.

Judge Graham said, "This is a game changer for so many people in our circuit. We have an opportunity here to save lives and restore families by breaking the cycle of addiction and preventing further criminal activity in our communities."

The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Felony Adult Drug Court will be accessible to citizens of Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker Counties. Court proceedings will be conducted weekly at the Walker County Courthouse where Judge Thompson's chambers are located.

Judge Thompson stated, "We are very grateful to Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield for providing office space for our drug court coordinator and his support of this program."

Applicants for the program will be screened in the near future. The Court hopes to serve up to 70 individuals at a time.

Judge Graham said, "We know that this will have a huge impact on those coming before the Court for adjudication. We believe this program will literally save lives and we couldn't be more excited."

Off-the-beaten-path Peach State guide is now on sale

There are alternatives for those who want something more than a staycation — not only during the school holidays, but any time of the year — but have neither the time nor resources for a multi-week summer vacation.

That is where a new book by local author/photographer David Jenkins can be a godsend for anyone planning a day trip, a Sunday afternoon drive, or a long weekend