Festival in the fall and Christmas in the Streets. In addition to the seasonal activities, Miller said the city holds monthly movies-underthe-stars nights at the HollandWatson Park and First Friday concerts.
Adding to the mix of activities, Miller said the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum makes the town a stop on its regular steam train excursions and the Ironman brings that triathlon competition’s cycling leg through town twice each year.
“What’ll it be like in the future?” he asked, before describing plans — developed in conjunction with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government — for sustainable growth.
While Miller’s described a vision, a possibility for the future, Day spoke about brick-and-mortar modernization currently underway at two of the city’s three schools.
The superintendent explained how voters, by a 3-1 margin, in 2016 approved a referendum to one school and revamp the other.
Day said that the day after the school year ended, the middle school’s interior was razed and its total refurbishment was begun. She said crews are working long hours and weekends to assure the project is completed within an eight-week time frame — the school must be ready before classes resume.
Construction of a replacement for the high school began last year and will continue until the second semester of the 2017-18 school year.
This year’s high school class will start in the old school and be the first to graduate from the new building, Day said.
In addition to demolition of the old and construction of the new, Gordon Lee had its evaluation, given every five years, for state accreditation, she said. Day said those doing the evaluation were so impressed with the school and its progress that they asked to attend dedication ceremonies when construction of the new high school is complete.
While the school superintendent has been dealing with construction disruption for about a year, Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield, during the six months since his swearing in, has been trying to bring order to the county’s chaotic financial situation.
Among the most exciting things to occur has been a private developer’s commitment to invest more than $100 million to build Canyon Ridge Resort atop Lookout Mountain.
“This will be the greatest single investment in the county’s history,” Whitfield said. “This will be a real ‘shot in the arm’ for Walker County.”
The commissioner said “everything is moving forwards” and that developer Duane Horton is in the process of securing financing and working out details that will allow construction to commence.
But the “destination resort” might not be the only bright spot on the county’s horizon. Whitfield said several other— ones he described as ‘tire kickers’ — companies continue to look toward Walker County as a place to either build or relocate a business.
But new industry will only come after a protracted period of negotiations, and the newly installed commissioner must deal with a myriad of problems that need immediate action.
Whitfield described his job as, “Trying to identify problems and find solutions.”
Among the most pressing problems, at least at the time of the One Walker luncheon, is addressing issues of water infiltration into the waste water sewers and the huge financial burden that places on the county.
Each month, Walker County Water and Sewerage Authority buys about 12 million gallons of water from Tennessee American Water Company for use in the northern end of the county. But the county is now being billed for water returned for treatment at the Moccasin Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant, which means the county will be charged for 103 million gallons.
Whitfield said “we can’t live without water” so addressing aging infrastructure as it relates to waste water treatment must be apriority, but it is only one among many problems facing leaders of local government, whether at the municipal, county, state or national level.
“This (job) is the ultimate challenge,” he said.