Meet Walker County, Georgia: America’s Crazyland!

Another week down, another crazy news week over, and I believe that science has managed to achieve a earth-shattering discovery.  No, not the megastructure in a distant galaxy resulting in enough fan artwork to power conspiracy theorists in perpetuity, or if a purported “Planet X” video shown during a NASA briefing is real.  What I am referring to is something far more immediate, far more groundbreaking, and far more worthy of a Taylor Swift song.

“Just two good ol’ boys, never meanin’ no harm…” Wait, what? This ISN’T Hazzard? You coulda’ fooled us!

I’m referring to the fact that science may have located a place in America which is similar enough to Pasco County, Florida to be considered a permanent natural disaster area.  This particular place is Walker County, Georgia, home to what is widely considered one of the first American banana republics, within a republic, within a state, within a, well, you get the idea.  An alert reader and fan of my work, and connected to a group of rugged, dangerous journalists working undercover as large rocks in the region, brought some of the goings-on of Walker County to my attention.

For those of you who are not aware, Walker County, Georgia is a county in Georgia, but not just anywhere in Georgia.  It is located in northwest Georgia, which features a large amount of wildlife masquerading as humans, at least according to reports from residents who actually appear to have human DNA.  According to more than one report, this county operates under the concept of “Unified Government,” which means that one commissioner runs the ship much the way Donald Trump promises to, if elected, run America, Earth, and parts of the New Republic.  Technically, this sort of government runs counter to the democratic principles of government, but in this part of northwest Georgia, most people are more concerned about more important things, such as how fast they can move the hell out of Walker County to, say, North Korea.

The problem appears to stem from County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell who, in her natural habitat, is considered among the most fearful predators due to her sharp talons, razor sharp beak, and ability to dive at…crap, confused a politician for a falcon I was watching on Nova.  We all know politicians don’t move that fast.  Now, according to unconfirmed reports, Heiskell spends her weekends roasting copies of open records laws over an open dumpster fire.  These reports also indicate that not only has the commissioner transferred ownership of several county-owned properties to the local development authority, but that said move was done with the purpose of taking out bonds to pay to keep the county afloat.  Reports indicate that the county had $100 in the general fund in June, just enough throw a really snazzy pizza party in the commissioner’s office, but without the requisite alcohol to effect “responsible government.”  You can save your head-explosion moment, however, for this gem; the county has a $10 million dollar loan to pay back to a “hedge fund” by mid-January, 2016, and something tells us this fund has nothing to do with hedges, but this Walker County, so we really can’t be that sure.

Shown here: Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell. Not shown: Sanity, integrity or anything related to democratic rule, such as the constitution.

Of course, no self-respecting politician of Heiskell’s ilk will dare go out like a unnamed spokesman paying his victims big money for molesting them while eating allegedly healthy “sandwiches” while “walking.”  No sir, this commissioner is doing what any good politico does; namely, going on local television and brag about what is being done with the county tax dollars in the name of all that is “good, moral and decent” (our quote, not hers…hers is likely far more comical and incriminating.)  Of course, this doesn’t even begin to cover the sale of the goat to a local ambassador, who has been sleeping with the former owner’s brother’s half-sister, who is waiting for Kate to emerge from a coma while Stefano plots his revenge….wait!  Dammit, another Days of Our Lives flashback again, but you can see where all this insanity would lead one to believe that this section of Georgia is actually part of a parallel universe or, at the very worst, Central New Jersey.

Contrast this to Pasco County, Florida, a county which has decided that the best way to fix the problem of urban blight, crime, unemployment and income inequality is to rename the local highway said issues are located on.  An April 2015 article in The Suncoast News cites local real estate broker Greg Armstrong as saying (you simply can’t make something like this up!) “If we’re going to give it a new facelift, we have to give the ol’ gal a new name.”  Bear in mind, this is also the county which suffered some of the worst rates of foreclosure during the Great Recession, as evidenced by the sheer number of people attempting to move out of Pasco, only to find out that – surprise – enough pain pill clinics had opened up that border patrol agents were diverted from the Mexican border to deal with the influx of Oxy to the area.  But, as always, I digress.  Today, Pasco County is a vibrant, beautiful county filled with lush fauna, chirping birds, and enough pain meds to power political denial well into the 22nd century.

US Highway 19 in Pasco County, Florida features a variety of quality businesses, such as strip clubs, pawn shops and adult bookstores. Check with your travel agent, or bookmaker.

Between Pasco and Walker counties, we are fairly confident that if their elected representatives were to ever meet, it would result in a butterfly being stepped on, which would ultimately result in Ted Cruz winning the Presidency, Russia assaulting the United States with nuclear weapons, and the world eventually being ruled by a group of solitary penguins worshipping a colony of feral, radiation enhanced supercats.  Then again, the cats would actually eat the penguins, so that idea is shot to hell already.

104 thoughts on “Meet Walker County, Georgia: America’s Crazyland!

  1. I am in Walker County, Georgia, and you have just scratched the surface. Try having a the commissioners right hand man, the Walker County Attorney, being a convicted felon for drug sales and money laundering. It sounds crazy, but it is all true.

  2. Let’s not let the facts get in the way of this good work of fiction. All this article consists of is nothing more than a parrot of another rag in Walker County called the affectionately the lafayette underground. Why bother with the facts when you can babble on with more unfounded, and simply false, fictional anonymous statements. Oh and Jill, when will you finally admit that you do not even live in Walker County? This article is nothing more than a continuation of the witch hunt perpetuated by the knuckleheads who lost the last election to BeBe. And you know what, everyone one of us should be thankful that those wackos lost that election or this county would be in shambles right now, and that is fact, not fiction. People of walker county be thankful. You have a great new business industrial park coming into Walker County, MAJOR employers actively coming into Walker County where this county is moving from a place where, prior to BeBe Heiskell, there was no credit rating for the county, 6mm in off the books debt obligations, and a declining socioeconomic demographic. Now, you have a county on the rise, the socioeconomic climate is increasing rapidly. With all this drivel coming out against commissioner BeBe Heiskell by the sore losers of the last election, the county still moves ahead progressively and steadily under the guidence of BeBe Heiskell. Thank you BeBe and keep up the great work!

    • You are just plain retarded. She’s a progressive alright – a progressive socialist. Can’t think of a dumber response when BeBe is destroying our county. I moved to Walker County just before BeBe. I’ve seen it go down faster than a hooker with a $50 dollar bill in her hands. This county is so screwed and you have audacity to think it’s going great? Oh come on, keep reading the labels on your cereal box and wait to see what is to come in Walker. There is a new dawn rising along with a movement that will take care of her and anyone that stands with her.

      • Richard, respectfully, again let’s not let the facts get in the way of your knee jerk reaction and unsupportable “allegations.” When you moved to walker county “just before BeBe” Your Walker County owed 6mm in debt that was not on the books, your Walker County had no credit rating, and your Walker County could not even pay its utility bills and the lights were literally on the verge of being shut off. Also Richard, respectfully, your Walker County had a below average median income. And, despite your obvious experience with the world’s oldest profession, Walker County is turning the corner on its debt issues, there should be close to $3,000,000 in reserves by year end and positive cash flow into the foreseeable future. Your Walker County today has Audia coming into town starting out salaries at $18.00 per hour for 200 plus employees, with a second plant coming in as well as a supporting plant coming into town. Audia was courted by many counties in Georgia and even the governor of Mississippi offered Audia NO TAXES FOR LIFE. However, Audia chose Walker County because of some great work and negotiation by your County Commissioner, BeBe Heiskell.

        People don’t by the fiction that people like Richard and Jill Weiss spew out. When you don’t have the facts Richard, baffle them with (well you know now the rest of this goes). So yes Richard, go back to the pre-BeBe Walker County and enjoy your $8.50 job waiting for the utility companies to turn out the lights because the bills were not paid.

        Thank you BeBe, you are a great service to Walker County!

      • She’s out!!!!!!!! Wish she could take her Hutchison and Mountain Cove debt with her, but she was voted out today.
        Hey Bebe: Bye Felicia!

    • I agree with others that you are so blinded by bias that you fail to see that BEBE HEISKELL has done nothing more than protect her own interests not those of Walker County residents. She is not a respectable business person by any means. The deals that she negotiates are for self-serving benefit for herself and her family.

      • Cathy, respectfully, what are the facts that support a very serious allegation against a government official: “The deals that she negotiates are for self-serving benefit for herself and her family” Because if you can OBJECTIVELY prove this, then most certainly an investigation should ensue. However, like most of the allegations against BeBe Heiskell and the Commissioner’s Office, the “allegation” is just unsupported and unsupportable opinion out of touch with the facts. This is no different than “alleging” that the county is bankrupt… the allegation is just ludicrous and unsupportable as fact.

    • With skyrocketing taxes, a hospital going under partially because the county can’t pay the money it owes, a “resort” the commissioner bought, a restraunt that cost the county thousands upon thousands…all for the commissioners ego, whoever you are, Thad, you are an idiot! No response required!

      • Deb, respectfully, if you don’t want comment then post this on Our Walker County or Lafayette Underground because opposing comment is prohibited there.

        The “opinions” you state here as fact are simply unsupported untruthful assumptions by someone who is misinformed and who has not taken the time to find the truth. Virtually everything you allege here has been already refuted in this thread so I will not take the time to again point out the failings of a misinformed poster.

        The better thing for you to do, would be just say “I really just do not like BeBe Heiskell” and be done with it. There is no need to foster misinformation and factual absurdities all you do is look silly.

    • Bebe is out of here after this term, so you can argue what Bebe has done or has not done till the cows come home. There’s a stronger candidate in wings, and she’ll be a lame duck after the primary. Public and party trust in Bebe is lower than ever.

      Walker is poor, even by Dade standards, and 100 jobs isn’t going to raise the median income of a population of 80,000+. Audia is not a major employer, and they are months behind schedule. Bebe would have to create more than 5,000 jobs to make any difference, and that’s just basic math. In fact, more jobs have been lost than created on Bebe’s watch. Name your list of MAJOR employers?

      Hutcheson is a major loss that could have been prevented, and has left Walker with a $14,000,000+ debt, which doesn’t include interest and legal fees. There’s no way Walker will walk away from that, or end up in a settlement.

      No one forced Bebe to buy MCFs. She was counting on Randy Baker to lease the property for development, and he went bankrupt. Development is not conservation. Like with most of her business deals, she failed to do due diligence. She cannot even maintain her own moldy trailer park. Now she’s shopping around her hotel idea, the same one Baker pitched her, even after the restaurant proved to be a miserable failure. Not including the reenactment, the RV park, etc.

      No one, Thad, believes the spin any more. Bebe should retire before it gets uglier for her. The sole commissioner system will be a thing of the past in a few terms. Time to move out of the 1940s, Walker County.

      • Larry, respectfully.

        The only spin being put on anything are those that push assumptions, such as you, that are out of touch with the facts as they really exist. What you do not understand is that people are not stupid, they can see the progression of Walker County, the new businesses coming in, the better infrastructure, the improvement in virtually all facets of Walker County. Your eroneous suppositions about MCF and the Hutcheson/Erlanger issues are just simply out of touch with the factual reality, much of which is described in this thread. Although that is not what you want to hear, you cannot continue to push factually absurd positions because the people of Walker County are not as naive as you seem to believe they are.

        Whether or not BeBe wins the next election will be entirely up to the people of Walker County, to the extent that an actually qualified opposing candidate runs against the sitting Commissioner, that can only be a good thing for our system of government as a whole. The opposition to the commissioner has been systematically creating unjustified hysteria for well over a year now and the people of Walker County are smart enough to see through it, as they did last election.

        As a concerned citizen, I want the hyperbole to stop and for the opposition to the sitting commissioner to act like they have the slightest clue about what is really going on in Walker County and focus on how they can even improve on the great work that BeBe Heiskell has already done.

      • Bebe is done. The losses at MCFs are real and come from the county controller. Hutcheson’s losses are real, and they will be auctioned, eventually. Audia is a good thing, but not enough to make a major difference, and there’s no signs of other “big” companies moving in. The whole project on the county’s end has gone over budget, and there’s no promise of job numbers or when it’ll ever open. Bebe’s been at this for 15 years, and 60 or 200 jobs is not a legacy to hang your hat on.

        People aren’t stupid, and that’s why when you see a story from the CTFP more and more citizens are speaking up in opposition to Bebe’s mismanagement. It’s become more than a few malcontents bitching on social media.

        Change is slowly coming, and that’s the best thing that could happen to Walker County.

      • Assumptions like big businesses are coming to Walker, or people will come to a restaurant and resort miles away from the flow of tourism and traffic…

      • Correct. 15 years of failure after failure is fact. $20,000,000+ in new debt over the past election cycle is fact.

  3. Well, this is lively! and I am so happy that Thad knows what he is talking about! I live in Walker County and the blogger who wrote this article should be sued for slander. Thank you Thad for your informative and accurate information on what is really going on in Walker County.

    • It’s political satire, not slander… or in this case, libel. When you are in public office, you give up certain rights. And if you cannot handle it, get out of office.

      • Actual Malice is required to pursue a person for defaming a politician, and that comes with the territory; frankly, I think the sitting Commissioner has done an incredible job accepting that burden and weathering the unfounded attacks leveled against here. Attacks which are often laden with defamatory content that maybe does not rise to the level of actual malice.

    • Hi Joe, I really do believe what I have said here because this information IS THE FACT. There is so much misinformation and flat out untruthfulness on the Jill Weiss facebook pages (our walker county and lafayette underground) that it is time somebody stood up and told the truth. Everything that I have said can be independently verified with public record, and no, I have nothing to do with Walker County as an employee except for living here.

      The reason that I am posting here is because Jill Weiss would not let me join Our Walker County or Lafayette Underground because my opinion is contrary to here political agenda. You see, when you control the content on a rag like those, you can create a ruse like she has until at some point in time, you have to put up or shut up. My challenge to all of you: Back up with you say with provable object facts. I can back up EVERY word I have said. Can you?

      The fact is simple, BeBe Heiskell has done an amazing job for Walker County coming into a situation where this county really was almost bankrupt. Now she has the county growing and jobs coming in and the true facts are that Walker County, under BeBe Heiskell has a great future! Let’s not screw it up with misinformation and unsupportable fact simply because the people of Walker County were smart enough not to elect unqualified people.

      • This same old spin isn’t going to work this time.

        Bebe is a secretary that became commissioner. She has an unaccredited business degree from a defunct college. She hasn’t balanced a budget in 15 years. Not much qualifications at work there.

  4. Thad you are delusional & delusional people can’t be reasoned with but I’m going to try anyway. The county is broke & the 3 mil you speak of is from we the tax payers of this county. You don’t buy banks and turn them into luxurious office space when the county is broke. You don’t buy a farm that has no way of supporting itself & move money from your general fund to pay for it & you don’t lie to people & say if you vote for splost I won’t raise property taxes & then raise taxes. People of this county are tired of being bullied and lied to & it will reflect in the 2016 election.

    • Okay Fed Up… let’s try this again with you:

      “The county is broke & the 3 mil you speak of is from we the tax payers of this county.” All county’s in every state get their operating funds primarily from taxes levied on the citizens of the counties, so unless you want to re-write how basic government is done, my apologies we are stuck with that process. And the 3mm that is real money, is from an increase in the Millage Rate all the while still keeping Walker County having the lowest tax rate in the state of Georgia (real facts).

      “You don’t buy banks and turn them into luxurious office space when the county is broke.” First, the county did not buy a bank, they bought a building for sale from a bank that had gone out of business at that location. Second, the value paid for the bank was a bargain by any measure. Third, the existing facility where your fellow citizens work in both the assessors offices were unsafe and riddled with mold. I suppose a lawsuit against the county would have forced them to buy a new facility, but instead your county made a good buy on a vacant building and solved a problem in the mean time, Don’t let the facts confuse you.

      “You don’t buy a farm that has no way of supporting itself & move money from your general fund to pay for it” Let’s be real here with what really happened. When the County bought Mountain Cove Farms it was in conjunction with the State of Georgia and at the behest of the governor of the State of Georgia. When they widened HWY 27 the County had to maintain a ratio of green space to space lost with the construction and guess what, you took a property, in conjunction with the State of Georgia, that would have lost its historical significance and you turned it into something that the County can be proud of. There was no choice at the time but to acquire the Cove. Let’s stick with the facts shall we.

      Joe, respectfully, prove what you say before you say it and be prepared to back it up or you look silly.

      • First off, you really do sound like an idiot when with your statement about the value of the bank being a bargain. It doesn’t matter how good of a deal something is; if you are broke and can’t even afford to cover your own debts, then you don’t have the money to back your purchase. Had they bought it to resell for profit to put money back in the county, then that would be one thing. But they bought it because they wanted a nicer and bigger building to work in. That would be like me filing bankruptcy on my house but then spotting a nice $50k car for sale for $30k and buying it; not to resell it for profit but just because I want a nicer car to drive. It’s asinine! First rule of money management; and this applies to all matters of finance; take care of your needs before your wants. In simple terms; don’t spend money you don’t have on crap you don’t need just because you want it (especially when the money your spending is not your own). Which brings me to my second point. When it comes to the farm; if you are planning on spending money (again money that it not your own) on an “investment”, how about letting the people who’s money you are spending have a say in the “investments” you are making with their money before you spend it. After all, Bebe is no investment banker, and has no educational background on investment banking; so why should she be allowed to us county money for her own “experimental investments” just because it “sounds good to her”. Now I am not saying she knew going into the investment that it was gonna be a bust. After all, there are always risks with any investment. But even a blind man could see that deal was sour. So either she knew she was buying straw knowing it could never be turned into gold, and did so on purpose; or she is just dumber than a box of nails. Either way, that doesn’t make the tax payers gain any trust with her. It’s like choosing between eating a pile of horse crap or a pile of chicken crap for dinner. Neither one is gonna be a good selection and neither one is gonna go down smoothly. And there in lies the walker county resident’s issue. We don’t want a commissioner who is either using our county tax dollars for her personal piggy bank to fund her wants and or personal endeavors, or one who is too dumb to realize that she keeps making bad financial choices for the county over and over; because trust me she is either doing one or the other or both. I mean we either have someone who is basically stealing or just really really stupid. Either way, it doesn’t look promising. Now we haven’t just given her one slip up and put her out to pasture. We have given her chance after chance to try and prove she is doing what is best for the county; and all we have been left with is being made to look like fools for keeping her in office as long as we have. Kind of a fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me scenario. Except she has fooled us 100 times over. Well, I can honestly speak for the entire population of walker county; we don’t like to be made out to be fools. So the court jester needs to hit the door. She just better be glad this is not a monarchy society or it would be an “off with your head” type situation!

  5. “everyone one of us should be thankful that those wackos lost that election or this county would be in shambles right now, and that is fact”. It is a FACT that the county IS in shambles. We have a single leader who has forgotten that she is a steward for the taxpayers who employ her. She was elected to make responsible decisions and to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. Thad, I do live in Walker County and I can tell you that there is noting fiscally responsible coming from the Commissioners office. From the purchase of Mountain Cove Farms, to co-signing huge amounts of debt for a failing hospital without securing any agreements about leadership or direction changes, to borrowing money to pay for borrowed money that was borrowed to pay for borrowed money….there is no leadership, no look towards the future, no vision. Those sir are facts!

    • Chirs, respectfully:

      ” It is a FACT that the county IS in shambles.” Where is your proof? What are the facts that support this unsupported opinion? Prove me wrong with facts, not opinion?

      “I do live in Walker County and I can tell you that there is noting fiscally responsible coming from the Commissioners office. From the purchase of Mountain Cove Farms, to co-signing huge amounts of debt for a failing hospital without securing any agreements about leadership or direction changes, to borrowing money to pay for borrowed money that was borrowed to pay for borrowed money….there is no leadership, no look towards the future, no vision. Those sir are facts!” Chris, here is your chance to prove you are different than the rest: Explain to us here what really happened with the Erlanger/Hospital Authority loan. Let’s see if you really know what you are talking about.

      • Hutcheson took several people to make it fail, so you cannot put it all on Bebe. Also, she spells her name Bebe and not “BeBe.” But, Bebe did guarantee loans she could not afford. Dade, opted out, because they knew that they could not repay a defaulted loan. Catoosa guaranteed monies because they can afford to take a hit, and paid off the Regions’ loan with cash. Walker could not afford to take the hit, and now it’s a looming debt for the next 20 years. It’s not good business to loan money you don’t have. PLUS, there’s another $10,000 in litigation with another possible $5,000,000 in interest that still hangs around the county’s neck. Eventually, it’ll be time to pay the piper. Or, at very least, the lawyers.

        These are the facts.

      • Larry,

        Much of what you say here is in fact true; however, when the deal was made to step into the Hutchinson/Erlanger situation, there was virtually 100% support from the citizens of Walker County and enormous pressure on the Commissioner to engage this deal. You are right, Catoosa County has a much more robust Sales Tax base which can and was used to satisfy much of their obligation here. In the end, it was a no win situation for Walker County because Erlanger was making a play for Hutchinson.

        That said, with the July Chapter 11 by Hutchinson, the jury is out as to how that will affect the Walker County Contingent Liability. Hutchinson should have filed for Chapter 11 when this issue was first at hand. The liabilities are yet to be determined.

      • 100%? Prove that. Few people wanted Hutcheson to fail, but the reality is Walker could not afford to guaranty that loan. Many were calling for bankruptcy then. If you’re going to be the one throat to choke, you have to admit your mistakes and not blame the people. Sometimes you put what’s realistic and sound before politics.

        Bankruptcy doesn’t erase secured debt. Liabilities have already been partially paid, twice. Walker won’t be getting that back.

  6. Thad I’ve lived in walker county most of all my life here is what I’ve seen a county that is corrupt and full of a lot of corrupt people and bebe is one of them I mean come on why did she sell our only ems service yea we have all these great jobs coming to us but 85% more or less don’t have a high school diploma or GED we left school to work for a lot of reasons hell look at roper begging for help so please don’t feed us this bs bout bebe cause these jobs r only gonna bennef it those who live in Chattanooga so please shut the heck up walker county is posined by bebe next election I’m voting against her thanks

    • Tony, I respect your right not to vote for BeBe. That is what makes this country great, but are you really alleging that 85% of the people in Walker County don’t have a high school diploma or GED? “Five out of every 100 young adults enrolled in high school in October 1999 left school before October 2000 without successfully completing a high school program. The percentage of young adults who left school each year without successfully completing a high school program decreased from 1972 through 1987. Despite year-to-year fluctuations, the percentage of students dropping out of school each year has stayed relatively unchanged since 1987.” From the NEA Statistics. Further, you blame BeBe Heiskell because parents cannot keep their kid’s in school. I submit Tony that is a stretch in logic.

  7. $3M is reserves? How many millions is the bond initiative that was just passed without any input from we the people? How much is the INTEREST on those millions and for how long? Thad (if that is your real name), you are so interested in facts, truthfully answer those questions. You cannot create a surplus by title pawning all of the county’s assets. What about Bluebird and other businesses that have left Walker County? 200 people at $18.00 per hour? From what I understand by someone who is an employee of Audia (if they ever get to open), those numbers are way off and a vast majority of the jobs are going to Hispanics from Whitfield County. That is of great benefit to the taxpayers and business owners of Walker County… Now Thad, or BeB, or Joan, or whatever your name is…..stop treating concerned citizens like they are stupid. We can all see what is happening and it is our right, and in fact our obligation, to speak out against your “facts”.

    • Chris, respectfully:

      “How many millions is the bond initiative that was just passed without any input from we the people? How much is the INTEREST on those millions and for how long? ” The bond initiative was 15mm and it was approved by the Walker County Development Authority that is not controled by BeBe Heiskell. Further, Jill Weiss challenged the Bond in Court and lost; the Bond was approved by the Judge. “without any input from we the people?” You can’t be serious. Now let’s discuss the practical truth: The bond is a great idea, you take long term debt of 20 years and a nominal coupon rate and you use part of that money to retire short term debt, the county actually comes out WAY ahead. Let’s not let the facts get in the way of the fiction.

    • “…..stop treating concerned citizens like they are stupid.” If you walk like a duck and act like a duck…..well there you go! you all are stupid. If you can only repeat, quack or parrot what someone else has said and not truly done your homework…..there you go!

      • eyes, respectfully. Since the last election where BeBe was retained, there has been a concerted effort afoot to basically engage in character assassination of the sitting Walker County Commissioner. The method of this attack has a very similar pattern (limit opposition by not giving them a voice and inundate the information highway with unsupported and unsupportable opinion). People for decades have been susceptible to this formula for creating unjustified hysteria. All I am doing is putting out the facts versus the fiction and unsupported opinion that has fueled this attack for so long now.

        I propose a solution: Set up a public “moderated” debate between BeBe Heiskell and Jill Weiss, or whoever her side appoints, and lets have a public healthy debate on the issues/allegations and really find out where the facts are versus the fictions. In fact, lets have it televised and put it on the offending facebook pages and elsewhere so that the citizens of this great county can judge for themselves.

        Before the people of this county voice their opinions this coming May, let’s get the truth out there for a change.

      • “Thad”, first of all you keep implying that you are “blocked” from websites (presumably on Facebook) and cannot give your opinion. Which site are you blocked from? As I mentioned, I see many dissenting opinions on the sites I visit. Second, there are several videos of Jill attending public meetings with the Commissioner. In each, Jill is respectful and asks reasonable questions while the Commissioner is evasive and never seems to be prepared with facts. We all know how the Commissioner, her office, and her supporters try to portray Jill. People who don’t support the Commissioner’s agenda are blocked from her public Facebook page, demonized in public meetings and made fun of in the “media” (if that’s what the Judy O’Neal is considered). I would suggest to you that there is no way on Earth that Commissioner Heiskell would agree to such a debate……

      • Chris,

        Most of what you raise has already been addressed here, so I will not address it again, and nobody said Jill W was disrespectful at public meetings, all that was said is that she hides behind anonymous websites that purport to offer the news, when in fact they are nothing but political sites with a political agenda.

        My question to you is, why would the Commissioner not participate in a “moderated” debate on these issues; especially on the eve of an election year? With such a debate, you and everyone gets the answers to these issues in the context of a true exchange. What cannot happen is that the Commissioner’s office submits itself to a free-for-all where all that happens is an emotional hyperbole driven exchange where true questions, answers, counter-points are not entertained. Proper debate is always a good thing.

      • “Thad”, she would not agree to moderated debates with Dr. Shaw who was running against her so why would she agree to debate with a citizen who is not running against her. I can tell you with certainty that there are several people who would love to participate in such a debate with the Commissioner. Maybe you can mention that to her…

        As far as Jill and “anonymous” websites. Our Walker County is not “anonymous”. It is well known who the administrators of the site are. If you are implying that Jill is behind any other website, I think you are way off base. I would be interested for you to produce some proof on that one.

      • Chris,

        I find it hard to believe that a properly moderated debate that was controlled from becoming a free-for-all would not be entertained. Where these things become problematic is when they turn into free-for-alls and when they are not properly moderated. You set out a scope of questions ahead of time so that each party can prepare, you select a moderator that is capable, and you stick to the issues in a point / counter-point format. Everyone wins in such a scenario and all of this hyperbole goes away.

      • The LaFayette Underground was originally set up to bring political and other issues in LaFayette into light. Jill Wyse does not live or have any ties to LaFayette.

        There was a debate planned against Bebe and and Shaw which Bebe declined because of a prior obligation, which turned out to be a date with herself in a restaurant in Flintstone. Even so, that election is in the past. What’s coming soon, will be a whole different situation.

      • Larry,

        “The LaFayette Underground was originally set up to bring political and other issues in LaFayette into light.”

        Respectfully disagree, you cannot review the sum of the content on that site and not see it for what it is and what it’s purpose is. You can wrap it up anyway you want, but in the end it is clearly an anonymous (thereby unaccountable) voice for political opposition to the sitting Commissioner.

        “Jill Wyse does not live or have any ties to LaFayette.”

        Agreed, she also does not live in Walker County.

        “There was a debate planned against Bebe and and Shaw which Bebe declined because of a prior obligation, which turned out to be a date with herself in a restaurant in Flintstone. Even so, that election is in the past. What’s coming soon, will be a whole different situation.”

        Larry in fact the coming election will be EXACTLY the same situation. A free opinion election of the next County Commissioner for Walker County, just like the last election. Now whether or not a properly moderated debate happens, remains to be seen.

      • Trust me, LU’s beginnings have nothing to do with Bebe. Part of what it has evolved into has been to bring issues with the county into light, but it does have other purposes.

        Jill owns property in Walker and pays taxes, that does give her a voice.

        Things have changed and support has also shifted against Bebe at a high level. It will be a much different race. To think it hasn’t change will be Bebe’s downfall, so please keep telling her that.

      • Larry, respectfully,

        “Things have changed and support has also shifted against Bebe at a high level. It will be a much different race. To think it hasn’t change will be Bebe’s downfall, so please keep telling her that.”

        As long as the election is a fair one, then the results are the results. However, your “Opinion” on what will happen, is only that and nothing that has any basis in fact. I am not in communication with Bebe, I just took the time to find out what was really going on in Walker County, and believe me it took some time to sort it all out. It gets tiring seeing all of this unsupported and unsupportable babble that has no relationship to fact or the real world. Which is why I am speaking out.

      • “Thad”, you just wrote “It gets tiring seeing all of this unsupported and unsupportable babble that has no relationship to fact or the real world”. In previous posts, you have written that you are blocked from seeing these things by the website administrators. I wonder which statement is true? Also, you rail against the “opinions” of others when all that you are offering is your “opinion”. It is your opinion that there was $6M misappropriated while Roy Parrish was in office…because Commissioner Heiskell said so. By your own admission, there is no proof of that, only an accusation by Heiskell. It is your opinion that the bond initiative is supported by the majority of taxpayers in Walker County…… Your comments are no more than your opinion. They are not based on any real evidence. Now, why is your opinion better than anyone else’s opinion?

      • Your babble is also opinion. I’m much closer to this issue than you assume.

        It will be a primary to remember and things will change. For the better, maybe… maybe not, but there will be a change. We’ll chat again after the election. In the meanwhile, you’ll be kept busy wasting time with satire like this, unflattering CTFP articles, LU posts and OWC rants and what-have-you till then. Good luck!

  8. Jill Weiss challenged the initiative in court with no time to prepare or to consult legal counsel. County Attorney Don Oliver argued in court that “it didn’t matter the number of voices in protest”. Is this respect? Is this the type of attitude that we the people want or deserve from our elected county leaders? To Commissioner Heiskell, Don Oliver and the rest of the county’s elected class, the people’s voices don’t matter. You, Heiskell and others make fun of Jill Weiss at every turn. She is a property owner and a tax payer in Walker County. She happens to disagree with many of the positions of the Commissioner. OK, great. That does not mean she should be demonized by those who are supposed to be public servants.

    I also am not questioning the legality of the bond initiative. What I am questioning is the concept of borrowing money to pay for borrowed money. Under the circumstances, this was probably the best of a group of really bad options. However, the Commissioner’s irresponsible decisions at almost every turn put the County and the taxpayers into a position where we are really painted into a corner. I am also suggesting to you that there is very little room for citizen’s to question Commissioner Heiskell. Historically, most of the meetings that are planned, when they are planned, are announced with little time to prepare. They are quite often held in the middle of the work day. There have been many documented cases where citizen’s are harassed by the Commissioner’s henchmen. I spoke to the Commissioner on the phone leading up to the SPLOST vote (which I supported her on). I explained to her that explaining her positions and her direction were very important. Being open with the citizens that employ her is also important. If one is a public servant, disrespecting the public (even if there is disagreement) is not really leadership. Since this conversation, the Commissioner seems to have doubled down on exactly the opposite of all of the thing I mentioned to her. Respect is a two-way street. I respectfully disagreed with one of the Commissioners positions on her “Commissioner BeBe Heiskell” Facebook page. This is presumably a public page and I understand it is maintained by a county employee. Again, I was not disrespectful in any way. I was instead a voter, a homeowner, a taxpayer, someone who pays the Commissioner’s salary…and I was blocked from seeing or commenting on the Facebook page that I pay a county employee to maintain. Is this respectful? It is actually borderline criminal.

    Thad, I am glad to see you answered part of the question. Now for the rest. $1.2 million per year in interest for the next 20 years. $22 million in interest that my children and grandchildren will be responsible for paying back (Citation included below). The decision to strap my kids and their kids with this debt was made with very little discussion between Commissioner Heiskell and the people who have to pay it back. That is the problem and that is why so many of “we the people” oppose what is happening in our county. As I mentioned, I am a homeowner, a tax payer, a voter. I have lived in Walker County all my life and have voted for Commissioner Heiskell in previous elections. I supported her efforts to renew SPLOST because I want to see our county improved. I do not hide behind Facebook page or a fake user name. You will notice that I used my first and last name in this post as I do in any post I make. I am RESPECTFUL and I do speak FACTS. Unfortunately, Commissioner Heiskell has lost her way. She has no plan for the future that she bothers to communicate to the citizen’s that she serves. Those who disagree are often treated with disrespect and even contempt. My agenda is a county that is as great a place for my children and grandchildren to live as it was for me, my parents and their parents to live. Sadly, we have lost our direction and Commissioner Heiskell is behind the wheel steering the ship.

    Citation:

    http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/sep/16/judge-approves-walker-countys-15-millibond-is/325352/

    • Chris, respectfully:

      “Jill Weiss challenged the initiative in court with no time to prepare or to consult legal counsel” Chris when you don’t understand the facts, you will lose an argument such that Jill Weiss was trying to make. To allege not enough time is simply ignoring the facts.

      Chris, you make some good and valid points. I think that the Commissioner’s office could do a better job of getting the facts out there so that the people understand what is really happening. When you talk about the Bond Initiative, you are right there is an interest coupon going forward for 20 years. However, when you net out the short debt with higher interest penalties that is going away, there is a strong net gain for Walker County. True this is a 20 year bond, but look at the revenue/interest savings that will happen over that 20 years and then evaluate the true cost of that money. Bonds such as this are a well recognized fiscal management took for small governments.

      Let’s be honest, Walker County is not on Interstate 75 and does thereby not have the sales tax revenue base that Catoosa County has. It would be grand if you could get a Costco or Cabellas, or Bass Pro-Shop into Walker County, but that is not feasible given the logistics that are endemic to Walker County and its location. It is amazing really that the Tractor Supply store chain is looking to come into Walker County.

      So as Commissioner what do you do? You need to foster growth in the county and you cannot do that with sales tax, so you do the next best thing: you create jobs and trickle down collateral effects that benefit the entire county. Look forwards 10 years for Walker County. You create this business industrial park. That in turn brings in a big company like Audia which in turn brings in support companies which in turn brings in support services like restaurants, shopping which in turn brings in Jobs. It has to start somewhere, and when you take $5mm of the bond funds to finish off the business park, you have created that spark to fuel Walker County for the next 10 to 20 years. Drive by Roper; guess what, they are hiring. How many jobs will be created by the actions of a maligned Commissioner who did nothing but make bold and progressive moves for a virtually bankrupt county when she took over.

      Therefore, you have to excuse me when I say “enough already” with the misinformation and character assassination. The people of this county voted in your county commissioner and they will get another chance next year. BUT in 10 years, 20 years, when your children and grand children have good jobs in a growing county… look back and thank BeBe Heiskell.

  9. Thad, I understand the potential benefits of a business park and I also understand the geographic limitations of Walker County as I assume most reasonable people do. I honestly wasn’t totally dissatisfied with the purchase of Mountain Cove Farms when the idea was to “preserve the land for future generations” (we lived on West Cove Road for several of my teenage years and it is beautiful). Because of the very geographic limitations you mentioned (and then some), MCF will not support a restaurant (even one ran by the county with untold amounts of tax dollars poured into it); it will not support a resort; it will not support a casino (nor should we want one there); it will not support a campground (especially one that is poorly planned and put together). Most importantly, it is not the role of the County government to operate these businesses. If any of those things are viable, then lease the land to a private entity and let them take the risk. Frankly, Commissioner Heiskell assumed the RISK of operating a restaurant with money that was not hers….and she lost. Who is on the hook for the lost tax dollars? Not Commissioner Heiskell….I am. My 24 year old daughter is. My 14 year old son will be. My neighbors are. You are (if you are a taxpayer in Walker County). Was there any discussion whatsoever about the county operating a restaurant or a wedding chapel at MCF? No sir, there was not. These are just a couple of many examples of what many consider the fiscal responsibility of Commissioner Heiskell. Therefore, you have to excuse me when I say “enough already”. I do not question the intentions of the Commissioner, only the results. Frankly, I think she has surrounded herself with people who have given her really bad advice; but surrounding yourself with such people is in itself a failure of leadership.

    As Commissioner, what do I do? First, I get rid of the people who are giving the bad advice. Second, I foster an atmosphere of trust with the people I serve. Third, I open the books and determine exactly how big the problem is (and I don’t think today we really know). Fourth, I present a plan to put the county back on a track of fiscal responsibility by prioritizing and living within our means. The problem is a big one but as I mentioned, Commissioner Heiskell has been the one steering the ship. I believe she has lost the trust of a majority of the public and without the trust of the public, it is impossible to be a public servant.

    • Chris:

      MCF does not have to do any of those things you comment on and I respectfully think you miss the point of that acquisition. At the time when MCF was purchased, Walker Count was given virtually no choice by Governor Purdue; the only way the State was going to come in and take that 1000 acres was if Walker County had “skin in the game.” Meaning, the state wanted a wildlife refuge area of sorts, but they also did not want to be hanging out on a limb by taking the entire property without local government participation. So what does BeBe Heiskell do? She negotiates a minimal purchase of 280 plus acres and then negotiates with the State for them to give Walker County the acreage with the building assets on them so that “some” revenue was generated. As citizens, you get HWY 27 widened and you get an asset owned by the county that has great value, you keep that for the citizens of Walker County such as yourself, and you solve a problem. MCF is booked up solid for weddings and events; it is doing exactly what it needs to do to maintain its value. Was it a mistake to turn over management of the restaurant to a third-party? yes it was. Did Commissioner Heiskell fix it? Yes she did.

      “As Commissioner, what do I do? First, I get rid of the people who are giving the bad advice.”

      What is the bad advise that allegedly has been given? What is the economics behind your opinion as such?

      “Second, I foster an atmosphere of trust with the people I serve.”

      How do you intend to do that and what do you contend that Commissioner Heiskell should do improve in that area? You realize that like any CEO, you cannot have the cart driving the horses, so you have to find a healthy solution. What is it?

      “Third, I open the books and determine exactly how big the problem is (and I don’t think today we really know).”

      The books are open and always have been. In today’s world with the public records laws, there is no way to keep the books from being open. Contrast that with how things were when Commissioner Heiskell came into office and realized that $6mm in debt was being hidden and was not on the books. What did your commissioner do? She immediately made it public and went to the proper authorities.

      “Fourth, I present a plan to put the county back on a track of fiscal responsibility by prioritizing and living within our means.”

      What is your plan Chris? If you put the breaks on spending, you stop the business park, you fail to progressively set conditions that would allow the county to grow by spending, you will bankrupt Walker County in short order. You have to have a real plan. Assets and money must be put to work and if you sit on those things, you immediately stymie growth and development. Walker County has not been operating of late in the green, but with the slight raise in the Millage Rate (remember Walker County is still the lowest taxed county in the state) and the adjustments made on the debt structure, there will be a year end surplus. Even with this, Walker County still has a very high credit rating with Moodys.

      “The problem is a big one but as I mentioned, Commissioner Heiskell has been the one steering the ship. I believe she has lost the trust of a majority of the public and without the trust of the public, it is impossible to be a public servant.”

      There may be an element of the County that feels as you do, but I do not think it is a majority of the county and I think this next election will easily bear that out.

      However, you can help the situation by engaging in this debate in a positive way to foster healthy changes and support great decision made by your Commissioner. Attacking BeBe Heiskell with allegations that clearly are nowhere near the truth only undermines the situation.

  10. “Thad”, or Commissioner Heiskell, or commissioner’s staff, or maybe even one of the trusted advisers… whoever I am taking to that has such an intimate knowledge of the Commissioner’s talking points; you should understand that you are continuing to make the same mistakes that I have mentioned a couple of times in this thread. I am not “attacking”, I am not using untruths and I have not been disrespectful. This is always your response and this is why so many people have such disdain for your office. If someone disagrees, you immediately go on the attack. They are disrespectful, they are liars, they must be deleted from the PUBLIC Facebook page. This is not a type of leadership that inspires others. It is ridiculous and laughable. Two or three times on this one thread, you have blamed Roy Parrish for the woe’s of the county. Didn’t you work for Roy Parrish for many, many years Commissioner? As far as the restaurant, turning over the management to a third party was not the issue; opening a restaurant with tax dollars in the first place was the issue. When it failed to earn a profit, the Commissioner did not immediately “fix it”, she let it continue to operate and as a result lost taxpayer money. Again, you attempt to give the Commissioner credit for fixing a problem that SHE CREATED. Opening a restaurant is not the role of county government…period!

    As far as Commissioner Heiskell being a “CEO”, I believe that the relationship between an elected official and the citizens is different than the relationship between a CEO and the company’s Board of Directors. I agree, a leader does not have to let the cart drive the horse, but neither should she lose the heart for public service. Part of that heart is connecting with the voters, even when there is disagreement. Instead, as I mentioned, the first inclination of the Walker County Commissioner’s office is to attack, as you have done today. You are also correct in your statement that next year’s election will see if I am right or if you are right. As it should be, the election will be a referendum on whether the Commissioner is doing a good job or a bad job. There is no spinning the amount of debt that the county has accumulated since the last election and there is no spinning the reasons for that debt. There is no spinning the fact that much of the reason for the debt has been hidden in the general budget, despite your propaganda that the books are open. You may very well be right and the majority of voter’s may entrust you (Commissioner Heiskell) with another term in office. If that happens, I hope that that term is spent in very much a different way than this term because my county cannot survive much more of the financial catastrophe’s that it has endured in recent years.

    • Chris,

      I am neither Commissioner Heiskell or anyone in her office or associated with the office. I am a concerned citizen who took the time to actually research and discover the true facts after reading so much ridiculous information on the two facebook pages run by Jill Weiss. I did the same thing that you could do if you, or anyone else could do, if they really wanted to know the truth.

      What happens is that nobody comments about the unfounded attacks on the two facebook pages (largely because Jill will not allow anyone with a contrary opinion to post); therefore, the content goes out as if it has a semblance of truth to it. You argue that an attack is underway here, yet you and others do the very thing you allege on the two facebook pages. You can fact check the information that I have put forth and correct me if my research is wrong, but that is not how the debate goes in situation like this. You start with an assumption, and then get bullish when anyone dare challenge the assumption.

      All I am after is the truth. Provide us with proof that I am wrong and I will stop the debate or be the first one to advocate change. Your assumption that Walker County is in financial trouble is just simply wrong, at least based upon what I can see by reviewing the public record.

      Take the time to seek the truth before you render opinions that have little resemblance to it.

  11. The beauty of all of this “Thad”, is that the voters get to decide who is telling the truth. As far as the Facebook pages you mentioned, I am not a regular contributor, but I do see dissenting opinions all the time. FACT! I can with 100% certainty tell you that the Commissioner Bebe Heislell Facebook page absolutely deletes anyone who does not tow the line on Commissioner’s political narrative. FACT!

    • Chris, the voters get to decide if their Walker County is the progressive forward thinking county that I suggest the truth supports, or the bankrupt poorly run disaster that a few seem to suggest that it is with opinion and unsupportable allegations. Time will tell.

  12. Speaking of truth Thad. You said Audia was hiring 200 people at $18 an hour. The GA DOL said the number was 60 and didn’t list an hourly rate. After an extensive post, I can find nothing that says 200 people at $18 an hour. I do see that Audia has 10 companies with just over 1000 employees in total. 200 seems a bit high. I hope your facts are indeed true, but am wondering where to find the data (sorry, I am a Business major and I like data). Can you provide me a link to your source?

    • Chris,

      The data is readily available at the Commissioner’s Office. Independent of that, you can find varying reports, but all good news for the People of Walker County. Since you are a business major, I will give you a little help to get started: “Audia Group plans to begin production at the new 300,000-square-foot facility in August, producing plastics for the southeastern region and hire about 150 workers. That number could eventually double over time, according to the company.” Times Free Press March 11, 2015. Of course, the ultimate number will depend on Audia, but it stands to reason that it will take a significant work force to man the facility.

      “The plan calls for Audia International, Inc. to invest over $50MM in a plastics manufacturing facility in the newly developed Walker County Business Park north of LaFayette on US 27. The facility will support Audia International’s three subsidiaries: Washington Penn Plastic Co. Inc., Uniform Color Company, and Southern Polymer, Inc.

      “We are very impressed with the support and cooperation given by Walker County as we have searched for the right location for this new plant. Our search covered six states, and Walker County proved to be the best location for us.” said Todd Gummersbach, Audia’s representative.

      The project was dubbed Project Eagle by the Walker County Development Authority. The Georgia Department of Economic Development and the Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority also participated in the negotiations with Audia.

      “We are so pleased that Audia will be joining the community of wonderful manufacturers and businesses who call Walker County home,” said Walker County commissioner Bebe Heiskell.”

      http://www.washingtonpennplastic.com/news/audia-international-inc-announces-new-plant-in-walker-county-business-park/

      Chris, Audia is holding a number of job fairs which should provide a number of great jobs for our local citizens. How can that be a bad thing? If you want to determine the exact number, contact Audia as I suggest that would be a great place to start. Audia is the largest plastics manufacturer in the world. The company is an amalgamation of three other companies: Washington Penn Plastic, Uniform Color, and Southern Polymer. The introduction of Audia to Walker County will most surely be a precursor to other major businesses coming into Walker County; Audia will be a great anchor to the Walker County Business Park.

  13. Oh….here is my source for 60….. Interesting that they are advertising for workers in Chattooga County when Walker taxpayers are building their building and we can only guess what other accommodations. When VW built in Chattanooga, VW agreed to hire a large percentage of the workers from Hamilton County. If the Commissioner’s office was as up-front as you claim, it would be really interesting to see the terms of Walker County’s agreement with Audia. Surely there is a similar provision to hire a majority of Walker County voters in that agreement…don’t you think “Thad”?

    http://chattooga1180.com/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=47710

    • Chris,

      Let’s not get confused with the facts. The Tax Payers of Walker County are building the infrastructure for the business park where Audia will be the anchor. Audia is spending over $50,000.000.00 in Walker County to build their own facility. Don’t let the facts interfere with the fiction.

  14. “Thad”, I had already seen that link. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention 200 employees or $18 per hour. In the Times-Free Press the article says “Neither Brooks nor the company would say how many people the plant will employ.” I do see a later article that mentions 150 workers, but it doesn’t say if Audia or Larry Brooks is using that figure. For the record, I am all about jobs. My dad worked in textiles for 46 years. It is an honorable profession and it is a travesty that textiles has left America. I am very hopeful about Audia. I do believe the Commissioner has failed to rally the public behind her though. Lack of trust? Lack of leadership? Updated information as it is available….. This is all part of the problem…

    • Chris,

      You are correct, the article does not use the words 200 Jobs, it says 150 jobs which may in fact double to 300. Whether the number is 150 or 300, as you well recognize, what a great thing for Walker County. In the end, this county, through the efforts of our Commissioner’s Office, has brought in a major corporate anchor for the business park and we should all be very excited about this.

      The number 200 is a number that Commissioner Heiskell has put out as a target benchmark and so whether the actual number is slightly less or slightly more, the result is wonderful either way. I think that the lack of trust exhibited by a minority of the citizen’s of Walker County is a direct reflection of the barrage of negative unfounded information put out on a regular basis by Lafayette Underground and Our Walker County. In any event, the facts are contrary to the barrages.

  15. The lack of trust is due to a lack of information from the Commissioners office. Just a couple of comments earlier, you said “The data is readily available at the Commissioner’s Office”. If the Commissioner’s office would not conduct itself in such secrecy, there might be more trust exhibited. For example, it is October and every article that I have read said that Audia would open in August. I have heard that the project has cost the county $5 million in additional cost overruns; which was the reason the bond referendum was rammed through so fast. The rumor is that water lines were too small, concrete was poured on unstable ground, ground won’t support rail lines, GA DOT is making the county build a lane for trucks to pull in and out of (something the county knew to do but didn’t)….. These are rumors, but they are substantiated by the fact that it almost November, and when you drive by, the project looks nowhere near completion. Isn’t it a reasonable expectation to have some sort of an update considering that my taxes have been raised twice and I have co-signed on a $15 million loan that is being used, in part, to build this industrial park?

    • Chris,

      You certainly have the right to get information from the Commissioner’s Office, but I have no basis of knowledge to determine if you yourself have even tried or what your efforts have been.

      I know that with some fairly basic research, I was able to get a good bit of information. The Business Park, as all business parks are, was sold to its occupants as “Pad-Ready” and so with that it is necessary for Walker County to have the site ready to go. The location selected for the Business Park was the perfect site, it was the only piece of property in Walker County large enough AND with adequate water, electrical, rail, gas, sewer, and fiber obtics already in place. The cost to replicate this site would have been much more than the original $4.5mm. There are additional costs that will need to go into the Business Park, some of which will come from the Bond Issuance, but that cost will be spread out over the term of the Bond which makes money pretty cheap and a great investment. Remember this is a 500 Acre Site that will support much more than just Audia. The overall positive impact to Walker County will be very impressive.

  16. I have lived in Walker County, most of my life. I see ridiculous property tax rates that continue to spiral upward. I was one of the many in chickamauga, that she promised County services, such as city sewer. Lies, nothing but lies. My County taxes continue to increase, yet… I receive nothing in return.

    • Thomas,

      The truth is that Walker County has the lowest tax rate of any other county in Georgia; now there was a recent 3 Millage increase in local taxes, but even with that increase, Walker County remains the lowest County in the State.

      I cannot comment to what you personally were allegedly promised and what the circumstances were, but if you have questions, I suggest you contact the Commissioner’s Office for clarification.

      • Low millage rates are not the only factor to consider. In fact, there is not a real simple answer to the claim that Walker has the lowest millage rate in the state. Here is why:

        County A might have a total mill rate, including schools of 28.123.
        County B may have a mill rate of say 27.456.
        County B has lower property taxes, right? Wrong.
        If property is appraised, valued, at more in County B, then say comparable property in County A, then County B’s real, (what is paid), property taxes could actually wind up being higher.

        County budgets will be funded no matter what; or in the case of Walker, loans will be taken out or county property will be title pawned. Millage rates are important, as are the valuations.

        The really important question is who the County Commissioner prioritizes the initiatives for the county and manages her expenses. When the budget is mismanaged, millage rates will be increased, property rates will be reevaluated (up), loans will be taken out, or bonds will be sold. In a worst case scenario, like Walker County, all of these things are happening.

      • Chris, respectfully.

        Your reasoning is circular. If a lower Millage Rate impacts a higher valued property it is conceivable that the property owner will have a higher tax obligation and in fact pay more in taxes than a property owner with a lower valued parcel in a County with a higher Millage Rate. That is the basic economics of owning a higher valued property (you take the good with the bad) and has nothing to do with the Millage Rate as a whole.

        The basics here are not complicated. The residents of Walker County have had the benefit of the lowest property taxes in Georgia and continue to have that benefit. Now as the socio-economic forces improve the overall median income rate and as unemployment decreases there will be a down stream effect that will result in higher property values (ergo increased amounts of tax paid based upon the simple economics). However, that is a good thing and it means that your Commissioner is doing the right thing.

        If you contrast the pre-Bebe Walker County with the post-Bebe Walker County there are great upward changes that you just cannot ignore. Walker County is much better today than it was pre-Bebe Heiskell and to deny that is to have blinders on. Much of the reasoning behind this has been laid out here and will not be repeated.

      • “Thad”, to break it down in simple terms, you keep referring to $6M in debt when Commissioner Heiskell assumed office. It is not arguable that she was part of the administration that ran up that debt. That point aside, in 2015, the County has just sold bonds that equate to a $15M loan. $6M vs. $15M. I think every voter out there can do that math.

      • Chris, respectfully, you do not want to make this argument. The 6mm was OFF THE BOOKS and unknown until discovered when Commissioner Heiskell took office AND reported to authorities. The 15mm Bond, is a well recognized fiscal management tool for small governments. There was nothing nefarious about it, the process was open, supported and approved. The uses for the funds are well known and will result in a net gain for Walker County. You are talking apples and prunes here.

      • “Thad”, first of all, I absolutely want to, and in fact have, made the argument. Again, Commissioner Heiskell was in the inner circle of the previous administration. How is it possible that she did not know about this $6M? Did she have her head buried in the sand then too? If there was something done illegally, why was an investigation not launched? Why were people not punished for allegedly hiding this $6M? Where is the accountability?

        You write that “the $15M (sic) Bond, is a well recognized fiscal management tool for small governments. There was nothing nefarious about it, the process was open, supported and approved”.

        Approved by who? Nobody asked the tax payers. In fact, as I mentioned yesterday, County Attorney Don Oliver argued in court that “it didn’t matter the number of voices in protest” (to the bond initiative). That is a DIRECT QUOTE as he was referring to the people who had come to protest; the same people who were told by the judge that they could not voice their opposition. Every taxpayer in the County could have disagreed with the bond initiative and it would have gone forward anyway. Why? Because the fiscal irresponsibility of Commissioner Heiskell had painted the county into a corner and she had no choice. The bond initiative is legal, I have no argument about that. I do have an issue with you praising Heiskell for implementing a solution to a problem that she was responsible for creating in the first place. It is unknown how many people supported or approved the bond initiative. The larger and more important question is how many people supported the many missteps that put the county into a position that it had to borrow $15M in the first place?

      • Hey “Thad”…..one other question. I have found instances where the Commissioner has mentioned this $6M, but never any mention of where the $6M was spent. Since you seem to have such insight into the Commissioner’s office, maybe you can tell us what the nature of the $6 million dollar “OFF THE BOOKS” liability is. Is it pension liability? Accrued vacation pay? Kickbacks? Where was this $6M spent? Please enlighten us…..

      • Chris, respectfully, wouldn’t life be grand if we could all do it in retrospect. I can think of a thousand decisions I would make differently were that the case; however, in the real world life is fluid and you make the best decisions you can with the information at hand.

        You commented:

        “Commissioner Heiskell was in the inner circle of the previous administration. How is it possible that she did not know about this $6M?”

        The answer to this question is simple, the underlying events that created this “circumstance” were well hidden and only available once the keys to the car were handed over. There was a minor discussion about this in an interview given by your Commissioner some time back, but the details of what had been done were less than Kosher and there is no evidence that your Commissioner knew or could have known before taking over.

        “If there was something done illegally, why was an investigation not launched? Why were people not punished for allegedly hiding this $6M? Where is the accountability?”

        Politics is a funny bed fellow Chris. Your Commissioner did the right thing and turned the materials over to authorities; from there it was not pursued by the authorities. Why? Politics is a funny bed fellow Chris.

        As for the Bond, unless you understand the nuances of short, medium and long term debt and how Bond’s are structured, the rational for why this was a good idea might not make sense. These particular bonds were issued at the request of the Walker County Development Authority of which your Commissioner is but one voice. The Bonds were sold off very quickly in large part due to the work your Commissioner did to get Walker County an investment grade credit rating (something the County never had before Bebe Heiskell came into office). The Bonds have a nominal coupon rate (slightly different than an interest rate) and as such the use of long term Bond funds will allow the business park to finish, pay back some SPLOT Funds, and retire shorter term debt. The combined net of these actions will result in a lower net impact on Walker County. Further, the Bonds can be retired early which is another great option. You cannot run any business, and Walker County is a business, without incurring debt, adjusting debt and managing revenue.

      • Yes “Thad”, but when one is the “CEO” (your word, not mine), one is held accountable for their decisions by the board of directors (the taxpayers). Your entire premise is that taxpayers who are voicing opposition to the Commissioner are somehow wrong for doing so. You are also right that politics is a funny bed fellow. A better way to put it is that there is a “good old boy network in action”. Commissioner Heiskell is a part of the “good old boy network” and many of us are tired of it and we are tired of our tax dollars funding it. If there was $6M STOLEN, MISAPPROPRIATED, WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE from the taxpayers of Walker County, Georgia, Commissioner Heiskell should release any details that her office has TODAY. Regardless of what “law enforcement” decided to pursue or not pursue, the taxpayers deserve to know what this $6M was used for and who is accountable. Perhaps State Law Enforcement should be brought in since, according to you, our county law enforcement selectively chooses who to apply the rule of law too. I call on Commissioner Heiskell to IMMEDIATELY release the details of this missing $6M (you can let her know “Thad”).

        Also, respectfully, you can stop explaining to me the benefits of paying off short term debt with long term debt and the advantages and legalities of the bond initiative. Again, the need for a $15M bond initiative was created by the poor decisions of the Commissioner. Voters can decide if she gets credit for fixing her mess and whether they are happy paying $1.2M in interest for the next 20 years as a result.

      • Chris, the statute of limitations is long gone on those issues. Again, it was uncovered by your sitting Commissioner and turned over. She did all that could be done at the time. You can research it on line as I did.

        You keep bringing up the 15mm Bond Issuance, and it is obvious you do not understand it, so I was merely answering your questions.

      • Thad, I am not talking about a statute of limitations…..I am talking about accountability to the taxpayers. If $6M of taxpayer money was stolen, release the details. Go to the Walker County Messenger and let the taxpayers know what happened. After all, it is OUR money. It seems to me, politics aside, that is the right thing to do.

        I do understand the bond issue…it is just irrelevant. The relevant question is why we had to borrow the $15M and whether the person in charge of the county – the CEO – is accountable. Didn’t the VW CEO just resign for his missteps?

      • Bebe could have called in the GBI if money was missing. I’m unaware of any investigation. That alone shows weak leadership.

  17. I have lived in Walker County, most of my life. I see ridiculous property tax rates that continue to spiral upward. I was one of the many in chickamauga, that she promised County services, such as city sewer. Lies, nothing but lies. My County taxes continue to increase, yet… I receive nothing in return. Thad is the only person that likes Be be. Obviously, he is either her relative or her employee. be be, is like having our own personal hillary Clinton.

  18. This is quite entertaining, the article and the obvious dissent among walker county citizens. People avoid walker county like the plague, I won’t say why but it is true that people will always blame the leaders and that is their role, they get the good and the ugly. I wish things could get better here but I can’t say I’ll miss it once I move.

      • I know Bebe personally. This doesn’t represent who she is. You only, admittedly, know her from the Interwebs and what you read.

    • Chris, I put up two informative fact-laden videos and you (and Larry) put up two videos that you are trying to spin. Your video depicts someone trying to bust into a meeting and press an agenda; trying doing that in the legislature, you get arrested. The second video shows your Commissioner being incredibly patient tolerating a caller who obviously had inundated the Commissioner’s office on an issue that certainly did not deserve more than a 30 second indulgence. Why do the facts bother you so much? Just say you do not like Bebe Heiskell, be done with it, and vote for her opposition in the next election. All of this angst and refusal to see things for how they really are colors all of your opinions.

      This is what elections are about, there is a winner and a loser. Bebe won the last election handily and that may or may not happen again next election.

    • Larry, I am just a concerned citizen with a well researched opinion. I have no political agenda, no ax to grind, no war to fight. I am just tired of this small minority of people who continue to misrepresent the facts of the Heiskell administration and who cannot seem to stay focused on the real facts versus the factual absurdities.

      • Sorry, I don’t buy that.

        If it’s a small minority, there should be nothing to worry about. Yet, there is so much attention given to a small minority… which I don’t get if the “misinformation” is a minor issue.

        I have no axe to grind as well. But I do know Bebe, and I know her leadership skills will never allow Walker to realize its full potential. Influential people who supported her before are not supporting her this time around. Facts, lies and opinions are really irrelevant at this stage.

        You don’t know Bebe, so you just don’t know what really goes on.

      • Larry, respectfully, it doesn’t matter what you believe or do not believe. I am aware that you “know” Bebe; you are on the Development Board and in part are responsible for some of the very things you complain of.

        My belief is that elections always polarize people and there was a minority faction of people who were with the Shaw/Campbell effort to unseat the sitting Commissioner. They lost the election and have been on the rampage since then. The people decided and they will decide again, regardless of your opinion, or mine.

      • Shaw and Campbell have nothing to do with the future. Neither will run in the coming election. That issue is moot. There’s a lot of new facts to deal with.

        Politics are sometimes-dirty. That’s just the nature of the beast.

  19. “Thad”, neither of the posted videos were altered in any way. My video does not depict someone trying to “bust into a meeting”. Were you at the meeting or have you talked to anyone who was present at the meeting? I have. The video is indicative of how voters/taxpayers are often treated in Walker County. It is ridiculous and unfair. As a matter of preference, I do not like my tax dollars to be squandered, I do not like to have my children and grandchildren to be put into debt and I do not like for citizens to be treated wrongly by public servants.

  20. Your article may have been worth reading, if it writing wasnt so biased. Comparing sole commissioners to Donald Trump makes very little sense. Just because you think he would be like President Obama, doesn’t make it true, now or in the future. Therefore, when you made comparisons of the them running government the same way, your ethics were seriously compromised.

    Respectfully,

    Lynn Otting

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