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Residents to decide distance between church, restaurant that serves alcohol

LaFayette, GA — Following over a month of discussion in the community, the question of how much distance there should be between a church and a restaurant that serves alcohol will be decided by the public.

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield plans to sign a resolution at his meeting on Feb. 13, calling for the following binding question to be placed on the May 19 ballot:

“Shall the governing authority of Walker County reduce the distance requirement from the front door of a church building to the front door of a bona fide eating establishment (as defined in Chapter 6 of the Walker County Code of Ordinances) from 300 feet to 150 feet for on-premise consumption of malt beverages, wine and distilled spirits in the unincorporated areas of Walker County?”

() Yes

() No

Commissioner Whitfield decided on the ballot question as a compromise between those who wanted to eliminate all distance requirements and those who want the 300 foot buffer to remain.

“This issue first came to my attention when a local restaurant owner was unable to obtain a license to sell alcohol because his business was located 297.5 feet from a church,” said Commissioner Whitfield. “Several business owners in similar situations have since reached out to me.

“I have also spoken with many residents and local pastors who prefer the distance requirement in relation to churches remain at 300 feet. We all desire more dining opportunities in Walker County.”

The ballot question only deals with the distance requirement between churches and restaurants. Chapter 6 of the County Code of Ordinances defines a bona fide eating establishment as “any public place selling prepared food for consumption to the public on the premises, containing a minimum of 1,200 square feet of heated space devoted to eating and food preparation with a minimum of 25% of any such area to be devoted to kitchen and food preparation area, which derives at 51% of its total annual gross sales from the sale of prepared meals.”

“Along with helping existing businesses, the ability to attract new full-service dining opportunities in Walker County continues to be an important piece of economic development,” said Robert Wardlaw, economic and community development director. “As we grow as a county and attract more tourists, it’s vital that businesses have flexibility with real estate to invest here. New restaurants will enhance our sales tax revenue stream and reduce pressure off of property taxes.”

Wardlaw added, “In order to capitalize on Walker Rocks and the natural attractions that bring visitors to Walker County, we need lodging and dining. Creating a business friendly environment makes us more attractive to potential investors.”

Existing distance requirements impacting bars, taverns and package stores would remain unchanged.

A complete copy of Chapter 6 of the Walker County Code of Ordinances is available to view on the county’s website, https://walkercountyga.gov/.

Food talk: Educator teaches nutritional awareness in Walker County

Walker County is launching a program designed to help people stretch their food dollar, eat healthier meals and reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture established EFNEP, or Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, in 1935. This national USDA-funded community outreach program is comprised of one-hour sessions called Food Talk, which are held either once a week for eight weeks or twice a week for four weeks.

“One thing that is missing from our community is nutrition education,” said Rebecca Hamilton, UGA educator and certified health coach. “This program can help improve lifestyle choices and promote good health. Small changes can go a long way and have a huge impact.”

Hamilton, who is also a certified yoga instructor, will coordinate the program whose curriculum is aimed to provide research-based nutritional education. Each session will include demonstrations of two recipes that can be prepared fewer than 15 minutes.

No kitchen accommodations are required for the sessions. The recipe demonstrations will be prepared using an electric skillet.

Free educational extenders are handed out each session to help participants to practice what they learn.

“We are offering interactive sessions,” she said. “We want people to participate and discuss common concerns and issues about eating healthy. We want them to learn so that they can then replicate and model that to the people around them.”

Some of the lessons taught will include how to pick out healthier foods because choosing the right foods can be used as a prevention for illness.

The classes go a step further by teaching food safety and how to plan meals for the week ahead by utilizing some of the same ingredients in completely different recipes.

“People don’t realize the majority of food waste comes from your home and grocery stores,” Hamilton said. “This includes food people aren’t planning to eat. So much waste can be eliminated just by learning how to plan your meals.”

U.S. households reportedly waste 76 billion pounds of food annually.

These free and all inclusive sessions are being implemented all over Georgia, including Whitfield County and Chattooga County, with great success.

A Virginia study of EFNEP found that for every $1 invested in the program, there was a $10.64 savings in potential health care costs.

All sessions must be attended in order to receive a certificate of graduation from the University of Georgia. Once completed, every graduate will receive a copy of the “Meals in Minutes” cookbook.

The program is looking for community collaborators throughout Walker County in order to provide nutritional education and support to the families in the community. The sessions will be allergy friendly, offering alternative options for those who attend.

The University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University are sponsoring the program.

The first public session will take place at the LaFayette-Walker County Public library Thursday, Feb. 13, at 6 p.m. Space is limited. To sign up, call or email the Walker County Extension Office at 706-638-2548.

Mills running for District 4 seat on Walker County Board of Commissioners

Vikki Mills has filed her Declaration of Intent to seek the commissioner’s post for Walker County Board of Commissioners District 4, which includes the City of Lookout Mountain and ranges from the north end of the county to the south end.

She and her family moved to Walker County eight years ago from the Nashville area for her husband’s work. She said she loves the county, and she and her husband plan to retire in Walker.

“We found a little piece of heaven here,” she said, “I want to be a guardian of the land and the people who live on the land in Walker County.”

Mills is a retired registered nurse and has worked as a critical care nurse, a coronary intensive care nurse manager and a cardio thoracic ICU nurse manager. Mills and her husband, who is a cardiologist at Erlanger, have been married for 33 years and have five grown children.

Mills said she has a “strong pro-life heart” and is concerned about what she sees as the erosion of freedom in the United States at every level. She describes herself as someone who is a cheerleader for what is right, likes to lift people, is truthful, is fair-minded and can be tough in competition.

Mills admires a woman at her church who has six children, and the youngest has a lot of health issues and needs complete care.

“This lady has shown me so much about faith, love and taking a situation that is not perfect and going with it,” she said. “She never complains.”

Mills plays tennis and pickle ball and enjoys cooking and reading. She has a dog and two cats. She is active in her Catholic church. She also volunteers with the Pregnancy Help Center in Chattanooga.

Mills can be reached at https://www.facebook.com/vikki.mills.16 or dlmills87@gmail.com.

In addition to a Board of Commissioners, Walker County residents will vote in 2020 for sheriff, tax commissioner, coroner, probate judge, chief magistrate and some other judicial positions, superior court clerk and three Board of Education positions.

Nowlin running for District 4 seat on Walker County Board of Commissioners

Mike Nowlin has filed his Declaration of Intent to seek the position of commissioner for Walker County Board of Commissioners District 4, which includes the city of Lookout Mountain and ranges from the north end of the county to the south end.

Nowlin drives a truck for a living and says he has logged 3.6 million safe miles over the course of his career. Before trucking, Nowlin says he worked in construction and road building for 10 years. He says the condition of roads in the county is very important to him.

Nowlin has been married for 47 years and has two sons and six grandchildren. “I want to see Walker County be a great place like it used to be — for my grandchildren and everyone’s children and grandchildren,” he says.

The things Nowlin says are most important to him are God, family and work, in that order. He says he’s a born-again Christian, and he has two Bible references printed on his campaign signs: John 3:16 and Matthew 7:21-27.

Nowlin says he is involved in his Cedar Grove community center, which raises money for Stocking Full of Love and to help families with food during the holidays. He is also a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member and helps at his church with security, as a greeter and in taking up offerings.

Nowlin says people he admires include Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. His hobbies include a little gardening and following his favorite sports teams.

Mike Nowlin can be reached at 423-413-3625.

Slaven to seek District 4 seat on Walker County Board of Commissioners

James Slaven, a lifelong resident of Walker County, has filed his Declaration of Intent to seek the Walker County Board of Commissioners District 4 seat, which includes the City of Lookout Mountain and ranges from the north end of the county to the south end.

Slaven is retired from Pepsico where he worked for 33 years as a customer relations supervisor, opening new accounts, resolving complaints, hiring, training and achieving quotas exceeding those of the previous year. He also worked on the company’s safety team and planning committee.

After retiring, he became an independent account owner with Snyder/Lance and sold the business, which had doubled in size, after five years.

“I am a devout Christian,” says Slaven. “I am a firm believer that our foundation in life should be based on Christian principles.”

Slaven has taught Sunday School and held numerous other positions with the churches he’s attended over the years.

Slaven says his family has always been deeply involved in their community, from Scouts to youth sports, band boosters at Gordon Lee High School and attending football games and band competitions. Slaven says he has even played Santa at Naomi Elementary.

Slaven has been president of Mount Pleasant Community Center for more than 15 years. “Our slogan is ‘Together we can make it happen.’”

He enjoys writing plays, directing performances, gardening, art, music, sketching, painting, fishing occasionally, metal detecting, performing in plays and “a good sock hop with sixties music.”

Slaven cites the importance of having goals. “Without a vision,” he says, “we perish.”

Slaven and his wife have been married since 1974 and have three children and seven grandchildren.