published Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Whitfield requests redistrict action

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DALTON, Ga. — County commissioners approved a resolution asking state legislators to change Whitfield County commission districts to accommodate the increase in population of about 20,000 people over the last 10 years.

Districts 2 and 3 in the northern part of the county had the greatest change. District 3, which now includes all of northwestern Whitfield County, will extend to the Tennessee line. All four county commissioners still will live in the districts they serve after the changes are made.

The resolution asks state legislators to pass the district changes during the special session they plan to hold in August. County Chairman Mike Babb said the district changes will go into effect with no additional votes at the county level.

During the regular meeting Monday evening, commissioners also voted unanimously to approve a resolution asking state legislators to consider shifting counties in the 9th Congressonal District. The resolution asks the 9th District contain 12 core counties — Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Fannin, Floyd, Gilmer, Gordon, Murray, Pickens, Walker and Whitfield.

Ed Painter, who created the newly formed Georgia for Common Sense Reapportionment, presented the resolution to the commissioners during a work session before the regularly called meeting. Painter said Whitfield County is the first government to pass the resolution, but other counties have expressed interest in the proposal. Dalton Mayor David Pennington has promised to place the resolution on the City Council’s agenda at its next meeting.

Leaders in Whitfield County say they support the changes because they best represent the economic interests of the county and the region.

In other business, commissioners voted to rescind the hiring of two county department directors — IT director Rick Lovelady and Parks and Recreation Director Brian Chastain — until the county can release the names of the other finalists for the two positions.

Commissioners had hired the two men without releasing the names of other candidates for 14 days, as required under the open records act, county lawyer Robert Smalley explained during the commissioner’s meeting.

“It was a procedural oversight, but in abundance of caution, I believe it would be the best thing to do,” Smalley told the commissioners.

The two men will continue serving as interim directors until the next County Commission meeting.

According to information provided by county spokesman Mitch Talley, 17 people applied for the information technology director position and four people applied for the recreation director position.

Two finalists were selected for each position. The finalists who were not hired have asked the county not to release their names or resume information, Talley said.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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