Walker Co. news roundup

Walker Co. news roundup

October 24th, 2012 by Mike O'Neal in Local Regional News

Saturday and satellite voting begins Saturday

Advance voting for the Nov. 6 general election continues at the courthouse in LaFayette and expands to include four additional sites beginning Saturday, Oct. 27.

Registered voters can cast ballots between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, and between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays at any of the satellite locations or at the courthouse.

Satellite voting sites are:

• Chickamauga Civic Center, 110 Euclid Ave.

• Rock Spring Athletic Association Building, 322 state Highway 95.

• Rossville Municipal Civic Center, 400 McFarland Ave.

• Lookout Mountain City Hall, 1214 Lula Lake Road.

The last time to advance vote at any of the five locations is the close of business Friday, Nov. 2.

Chickamauga mulls charter review and revamp

The city of Chickamauga's charter may undergo its first major rewrite since it was first crafted in 1913.

Councilman Jim Staub has suggested the City Council consider a sweeping review of the document, particularly how it outlines the municipal government's administrative structure.

The charter has been revised in the past - in 1925, 1955, 1971, 1973 and most recently in 1993 - but is showing its age, Staub said during the last council meeting.

"Our current charter is outdated and in need of modifications and revisions," he said.

Mayor Ray Crowder questioned the need for change, saying, "The charter has served us for years with no problem."

The city is chartered to operate with a strong council and weak mayor; the mayor does not vote but does have limited veto power. The city also has no provision for a city manager to oversee day-to-day operations, but the Council has assigned that job to John Culpepper.

Culpepper said his role grew from that of being in charge of utilities - "TVA required a full-time utilities manager" - as the Council kept adding to his responsibilities.

"The charter doesn't have an official authorized as city manager," he said. "I cannot fire an employee, but can suspend an employee."

While perhaps not important now, Culpepper plans next year to retire after serving for 40 years, and problems could arise in hiring someone to fill a role that does not fit with the charter's description of city administration.

Police Chief Micheal Haney was recently named assistant city manager by the Council, but like Culpepper, what duties that entails and what authority it includes is nowhere stated in the city charter.

Staub said City Attorney Jim Bisson, who also serves as Dalton's city attorney and is currently reworking that city's charter, should be familiar with the process and should be able to redo Chickamauga's charter in a timely manner.

Crowder asked about costs of such an undertaking, to which Staub said that redoing the charter will require an attorney but should not be terribly expensive.

"There are GMA [Georgia Municipal Association] models that are pretty straightforward. This is not like authoring a new document," Staub said. "We want to make certain the city charter meets all state requirements for it to govern itself."

Councilman Daymon Garrett said the attorney has estimated the cost to draft a new charter will be in the range of $2,000 to $3,000.

"This is just to update some of our old, antiquated laws," Garrett said. "Things like us having a town marshal, 'mayor's court' and the mayor being in charge of hangings. This [rewriting the charter] is something that's time has come."

Staub suggested all members of the Council compare the city's current charter to some of the more modern models currently used by other cities.

Regardless of how it is written, the state's General Assembly must grant its approval before a new charter can become law.

"It could be approved and take effect sometime in 2013," Staub said.

LaFayette screening scary movies Saturday

The city of LaFayette has several scary and Halloween-related events scheduled for before the end of the month.

The Movies in the Park series continues with a double feature Saturday, Oct. 27.

The evening will begin with a screening of "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," a 1966 film starring the late Don Knotts as a newsman assigned to spend the night in a haunted house.

The second film will be the 1953 version of H.G.Wells' "War of the Worlds," an Academy Award-winning film that is considered among the great science fiction films of the 1950s.

The movies will be shown beginning at dark in Joe Stock Park. There is no charge to attend either or both films, but it is suggested that spectators bring chairs or blankets for seating and to dress appropriately for the weather.

Scare on the Square this Wednesday

Children can safely collect plenty of Halloween treats when the Bank of LaFayette and the LaFayette Main Street Downtown Development Authority host the annual "Scare on the Square."

Roads on Wednesday, Oct. 31 will be blocked off so children and their families can trick-or-treat at the businesses located on the square.

Decorated storefronts and costumed employees and shopkeepers will hand out candy from 5:30-7 p.m., allowing time for families to either attend local church functions or go trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods.

Wellness checks offered by LaFayette Police

The LaFayette Police Department is once again offering daily wellness checks for the city's elderly or shut-in residents.

Family members should call Capt. Stacey Meeks at 706-639-1540 to have neighbors or family members added to a daily call list.

During office hours Monday-Friday, police will call everyone on that list to inquire about the named person's health and well-being. If no one answers, an officer will be dispatched to physically contact that person.