NFPA: Halloween Fire Safety

Halloween is a peak time of year for spooky celebrations and activities, but it also presents some truly scary fire safety hazards. As the holiday nears, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) is encouraging everyone to take simple precautions that can help ensure the holiday remains festively fun.

“It is exciting to be able to trick or treat, wear costumes, and celebrate Halloween, particularly after last year, when most events and activities were canceled due to the pandemic,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. “As more people plan to celebrate the holiday this year, we want everyone to know where potential fire risks exist so they can take the steps needed to minimize them.”
According to NFPA Applied Research, an annual average of 770 home structure fires began with decorations between 2014 and 2018, resulting in an annual average of two civilian fire deaths, 30 civilian fire injuries and $11 million in direct property damage. More than two of every five (44 percent) of these fires occurred because the decorations were too close to a heat source, such as a candle or hot equipment.
NFPA offers these tips and guidelines for enjoying a fire-safe Halloween:
  • Decorations: Many common decorations like cornstalks, crepe paper, and dried flowers are very flammable. Keep these and similar decorations far away from any open flames or heat sources, like candles, heaters, and light bulbs.
  • Candles: Using candles as decoration can be risky if not done correctly. Keep them in a well- attended area out of the path of potential trick-or-treaters. Remind children of the dangers of open flames, and make sure they are always supervised when candles are lit. Extinguish candles before leaving an area.
  • Jack-o-lanterns: Glow sticks or electric candles are the safest choice when it comes to lighting up your jack-o-lantern, but if you choose to use a real candle, do so with extreme caution. Light a candle inside a jack-o-lantern using long fireplace matches or a utility lighter and keep it away from other decorations.
  • Costumes: Avoid fabric that billows or trails behind you, as these can easily ignite. If you are making your own costume, avoid loosely woven fabrics like linen and cotton, which can be very flammable.
  • Visibility: Give children flashlights or glowsticks for lighting, these can even be incorporated into the costume. If your child has a mask, ensure the eye holes are large enough for them to see clearly.
  • Smoke Alarms: This is a great time to make sure your smoke alarms are functional and up to date.
  • Exits: Exits are NOT an appropriate place for decorations. When decorating, ensure that nothing is blocking any escape routes.
“With a little added awareness and planning, people can enjoy a fun-filled Halloween and keep everyone fire-safe in the process,” said Carli.
Visit the NFPA Halloween safety page for more resources of how to stay safe. Frightfully fun activities for kids can be found on NFPA’s Sparky the Fire Dog® homepage.

Governor Says Unemployment Has Reached Record Low In Georgia

On Friday, Governor Brian P. Kemp applauded Georgia’s unemployment rate dropping for the seventeenth straight month to 3.2% for September, an all-time low. Additionally, the number of employed Georgians rose above 5 million for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, and the number of unemployed Georgians was reported at the lowest level since June 2001 (161,786).

“As the top state for business for an eighth straight year with an all-time low unemployment rate, Georgia’s economy is booming,” said Governor Kemp. “Keeping Georgia open for business and getting people back to work has led to nearly 200,000 jobs added this year, record investment in communities across the state, and the fewest unemployed Georgians in twenty years. This historic news highlights the Peach State as the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Jobs were up 14,300 (1.3%) over the month and up 194,400 (4.4%) over the year to 4,578,200. 86% of the jobs lost in March 2020 and April 2020 have been gained back.

To take advantage of recruitment tools available to manage an employee talent search at no cost, employers can reach out to the Georgia Department of Labor for support and also access Employ Georgia to post job openings, search applicants, and invite potential candidates to apply. For more information on jobs and current labor force data, visit Georgia LaborMarket Explorer to view a comprehensive report.

Fall Events Going On This Weekend

It’s Fall in Northwest Georgia and Chattooga County residents have plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy this time of year this weekend. 

The Friends of Sloppy Floyd State Park are having hayrides today and tomorrow at the park.  There is a $5 parking pass that is required and adult tickets for the hayride are also $5 each.  Children are $3 and children under four are free.

In Menlo today, there is a Fall Festival.  The event is packed with all kinds of events including a candy walk, a cake walk, a haunted house and more.  There will also be a 50/50 cruise-in for car enthusiasts today.  Then, this evening there will be a movie in the park.  The outdoor screen will be set up and they will be showing a family-friendly Halloween movie.  The haunted house starts at 7 PM.  The event is sponsored by the Menlo PTO and hosted by the business owners of Menlo.  They also encourage you to bring gently used or new coats and jackets for children at Menlo School.

Also, Orchard Farms is hosting a fall event today.  The farm is located at 1679 on Garven Road.   Events will include pumpkin painting, a corn pit and face painting.  There will be hayrides and games.  The cost is $5.

Get out and enjoy the weekend in Chattooga County!

Saturday Voting Going On Today In Municipal Elections

Residents of Trion, Summerville and Menlo can take advantage of early voting today.  Voters will need to go the polling places in their municipalities to cast votes in the upcoming November election.  Lyerly is not having an election this year because none of the candidates had any opposition.  In the other three municipalities there are contested mayoral and city council races.  Early voting will continue through October 29th, with Election Day being held on Tuesday, November 2nd.

Courthouse Annex Dedicated In Honor Of Judge Jon Payne

On Friday, friends, family and government officials gathered at the Chattooga County Courthouse Annex to dedicate the building in memory of former Chattooga County Probate Judge Jon Payne.

Judge Payne was the first Probate Judge in Chattooga County.  When he was first elected to office in the mid-1970’s, the position was called the “Ordinary Judge”.  Through the years, Judge Payne’s popularity with the citizens of Chattooga County continued to grow.  After his initial election, Judge Payne only faced opposition one time in nearly fifty years.

The Judge Jon M. Payne Government Annex houses the Chattooga County Magistrate Court, the Tax Assessor and the Tax Commissioner’s offices.

WZQZ News spoke with Chattooga County Tax Commissioner about the building being renamed in Judge Payne’s honor.  Hampton said, “I am honored to work in the building named for our friend and Judge.  Jon serve dour county just short of a half-century, and he will always be remembered for the way he treated people. He was everybody’s friend, and I think it is a wonderful way to honor his legacy.”

AAA: Rained Out: Vehicle Safety Systems Struggle to “See” in Bad Weather


New research from AAA finds that moderate to heavy rain affects a vehicle safety system’s ability to “see”, which may result in performance issues.

During closed course testing, AAA simulated rainfall and other environmental conditions (bugs and dirt) to measure impact on the performance of ADAS like automatic emergency braking and lane keeping assistance.

Generally, both systems struggled with simulated moderate to heavy rain, with results showing:

Automatic emergency braking engaged while approaching a stopped vehicle in the lane ahead

  • In aggregate, testing conducted at 25 mph resulted in a collision for 17% of test runs
  • In aggregate, testing conducted at 35 mph resulted in a collision for 33% of test runs 

Lane keeping assistance engaged to maintain the vehicle’s lane position 

  • In aggregate, veered outside of the lane markers 69% of the time

During testing with a simulated dirty windshield (stamped with a concentration of bugs, dirt and water), minor differences were noted, however, performance was not negatively impacted.

These vehicle safety systems, also known as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), rely on sensors and cameras to see road markings, other cars, pedestrians and roadway obstacles. This makes them more vulnerable to environmental factors like rain.

“These systems are normally evaluated in ideal operating conditions. The problem with that is people don’t always drive in perfect, sunny weather,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “While these systems can be helpful for drivers, they are not perfect. So it’s important that drivers be aware of their vehicle’s limitations and remain fully engaged while behind the wheel, regardless of the weather.”

AAA’s Wet Weather Tips

Wet conditions present challenges to drivers regardless of whether their vehicles are equipped with safety systems. AAA recommends using extra caution in slick conditions by doing the following:

  • Keep windshield clean and ensure that wipers are not streaking the windshield.
  • Slow down and avoid hard braking and sharp turning. If possible, follow in the tracks of other vehicles.
  • Increase following distance to 5-6 seconds behind the vehicle ahead.
  • Do not use cruise control in order to stay alert and to respond quickly if the car’s tires lose traction with the road.
  • If the car begins to hydroplane, ease off the accelerator to gradually decrease speed until the tires regain traction, and continue to look and steer where you want to go. Don’t jam on the brakes—this can cause further traction loss.

Previous AAA studies on ADAS Technology

Previous AAA testing of vehicle safety systems in both closed-course and real-world settings show that performance is greatly impacted by driving scenarios, road conditions and vehicle design, finding issues like the following:

AAA’s research continues to show that vehicle safety system performance varies widely, reinforcing that they are not a replacement for a fully engaged driver.

“AAA recognizes these systems have the ability to lessen the chance of a crash and improve the overall safety of driving,” continued Waiters. “Fine-tuning their performance and providing drivers with a more consistent experience will go a long way in unlocking their true potential.”

Optimizing Use of Vehicle Safety Systems

It’s essential for drivers to be familiar with how their system operates. AAA urges drivers to take time to read the vehicle owner’s manual to learn whenwhere and how to use them.

  • Vehicles with ADAS cameras located behind the windshield, like those used in this research, “see” the same things a driver does.
  • If the windshield wipers are worn and streak across the window, this could interfere with the system’s performance.
  • Drivers should regularly inspect their wipers and replace at the first sign of streaking, chattering or if the blades appear hard and brittle.
  • A good rule of thumb is to replace each year, especially in hot, sunny climates or if a vehicle sits outside all day.

Suspected Heroin Dealers Arrested

A search of a vehicle on Shorter Avenue at Marigold in Rome this week turned up a quantity of synthetic marijuana and a “trafficking” amount of heroin.

According to Floyd County Jail records, 29-year old Tyree Cortez Paschal and 30-year old Assante Markeeth Fisher, both of Rome, were charged with trafficking heroin, and possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

The Rome-Floyd Metro Task Force then executed a search warrant at Fisher’s residence on Shorter Avenue and found 162 grams of heroin and 73 grams of synthetic marijuana.


Fraud Reported To Sheriff's Office

A Chattooga County woman reported an incident of fraud to the sheriff’s department this week.

The complainant told a deputy that an alert popped up on her computer and when she called the listed phone number, she spoke with a man who identified himself as being with Microsoft.  After giving the man permission to remotely take control of her computer and her cell phone, she discovered she was the victim of a scammer.

The complainant spoke with United Community Bank and they told her that it appeared a transaction was trying to post to her account.  She was not so fortunate with her account at Regions.  When she checked with Regions she found that all the money in her account had been withdrawn.

The complainant asked for a report to be filed by the sheriff’s office.



Bulldogs Demolish The Armuchee Indians

Lightning and heavy rain brought an early end to the Trion vs. Armuchee game on Thursday evening, but the Armuchee Indians had already had enough of the Bulldogs.  When the game was called due to lightning and severe storms, Trion was leading by 41 points.  The final score was 48-7.  Click below to hear a recap of last night’s game from Ben Groce and Jeremy Burke:

Onion Recall Issued

A salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 600 people in 37 states has been linked to various types of imported onions, federal health officials said Wednesday.
“Throw away any unlabeled onions at home. Do not eat, sell, or serve red, white, or yellow onions imported from Mexico and distributed U.S.-wide by ProSource Inc,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned in a tweet.

The states include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The CDC said 652 people have been infected with salmonella — and there have been 129 hospitalizations. No deaths have been reported.

“Epidemiologic and traceback data show that one source of infections in this outbreak are whole red, white, and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed throughout the United States by ProSource Inc,” the CDC said in a statement.

Multiple people who contracted salmonella ate onions at the same restaurant, according to epidemiological interviews conducted by the CDC.

Man On Bike Arrested For Meth Possession

LaFayette Police made a methamphetamine arrest after stopping a bicycle rider on West Main Street, last week.

After talking with the rider, officers asked if he had anything illegal in his backpack… and according to the report, he admitted having a pipe.  A search of the pack recovered two glass pipes and a baggie that tested positive for methamphetamine.

Thirty-seven-year-old Stephen Wesley Romine was taken to jail on the possession charge.


Chattooga Family Connection Food Distribution Next Month

The Chattooga Family Connection is hosting a food distribution event on November 19th from 1-3pm at Connect City Church. This is a drive thru event that is open to all Chattooga County residents. They will also be giving out hats, gloves, and warm coats for children as long as supplies last.

State DOE Releases Graduation Rates

Georgia students outperform national average on ACT

After rising for eight years, Georgia’s high school graduation rate flattened last spring, with the class of 2021 graduating at a marginally lower rate than the class of 2020.

State school Superintendent Richard Woods applauded the 83.7% rate, down from 83.8%, saying schools held their ground despite the extraordinary hardships for teachers and students.

“Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to see Georgia’s graduation rate holding steady,” Woods said in a written statement. “Combined with the class of 2021′s increases in ACT and SAT scores, this is an encouraging indicator about the work being done in public schools.”

Georgia calculates a four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate as required by federal law. This rate is the number of students who graduate in four years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. From the beginning of ninth grade, students who are entering that grade for the first time form a cohort that is subsequently “adjusted” by adding any students who transfer into the cohort during the next three years and subtracting any students who transfer out. While all states use the same calculation, each state sets its own requirements for students to earn a regular high school diploma. Georgia has some of the highest requirements in the nation for students to graduate with a regular diploma.

Reports Of Attempted Rome Abduction Are False According To Police

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The Rome Police Department issued a statement on Thursday saying that widespread rumors and social media posts about an attempted abduction at Harbin Clinic could not be proven.

Police launched an investigation into the incident which was said to have happened on Tuesday at Harbin Clinic’s cardiology building on Redmond Road.  Rome Police say there is no evidence to back up that claim.
Police did respond to the scene after a report of an attempted abduction, but couldn’t find any credible evidence to back up the story.
“The Rome Police Department does not have any information about any other attempted abductions as reported on social media,” a release stated.
Rome Police / Compiled Reports

Summerville Man Found Sleeping In Car - Arrested For Meth

A forty-three-year-old Summerville man faces a felony meth possession charge after being found asleep in a person’s car late Sunday, reports stated.

According to Floyd County Jail reports:

Joseph Matthew Hayes was found in the person’s car at a residence on the 1500 block of Turkey Mountain Road in Floyd County.  When Floyd County police searched the vehicle they found meth, marijuana, a glass pipe, baggies and a straw with drug residue.

Hayes is charged with felony meth possession and misdemeanor possession of drug related objects and possession of marijuana.


Pumpkin Palooza, Pumpkin Derby & Halloween Candy Walk Coming Up

Everything’s coming up candy and pumpkins in downtown Summerville on Saturday, October 30. Summerville Main Street will team up with the Summerville Trion Optimist Club to present a Pumpkin Palooza with Pumpkin Derby and the Halloween Candy Walk!

This fall celebration will be held down the East Washington Streetscape to the Summerville Depot. Hours for the Pumpkin Palooza will run from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Vendors will be on hand with a variety of foods, crafts, and retail for the public’s pleasure. Interested vendors should contact Susan Locklear by email at for vendor registration information.

Highlights for the day will include a Youth Halloween Costume Contest for ages newborn – 12 at 10:30 a.m. inside of the Open-air Pavilion. Registration for the costume contest will begin at 10:15 a.m. Youth may enjoy a scavenger hunt within the event area to find hand sewn “creatures” and a special Pumpkin Derby Race is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. on East Washington Street near the depot.

The Great Pumpkin Derby The Pumpkin Derby is a unique race for youth featuring handcrafted, decorated pumpkin racers battling head-to-head for the coveted Pumpkin Derby Championship Trophies and cash prizes. Trophies and cash prizes are sponsored by Summerville Main Street. 1st through 3rd place trophies and prize monies will be awarded. Prize monies will be in the amounts of $50 for 1st place Youth Division, $25 for 2nd place Youth Division, and $10 for 3rd place Youth Division. The races will be fun to watch but it’s even more fun when you’re completing.

What Is A Pumpkin Racer And What Are The Rules?

Pumpkin Racers are vehicles constructed from one pumpkin with independent axles and wheels. Pumpkin racers come in all different shapes, sizes, and speeds. The Official Pumpkin Derby Rules have been established to inspire good old-fashioned American ingenuity, promote fair play, and ensure that all participants have a good time. All Pumpkin Derby Racers must design and race their pumpkin racers according to these rules to ensure that the race is fun and fair for everyone.

1. Pumpkin Derby Racers must be crafted using a single, whole pumpkin. (While it may be hollowed out, it must retain its pumpkin shape.)

2. Pumpkin Derby Racers must be created by inserting two independent axles through the pumpkin, with wheels attached to the axles.

3. Pumpkin Derby Racers shall not attach pumpkins onto a prefabricated chassis of any kind (skateboard, stroller, Tonka truck, etc.).

4. The total weight of a Pumpkin Derby Racer (pumpkin, decorations, wheels, etc.) cannot exceed 25 pounds. Your pumpkin racer will be weighed before it’s allowed to race.

5. NO EXPLOSIVES or PYROTECHNICS will be allowed. Registration time for the race will be 12:00 p.m. until 12:45 p.m. at the Main Street registration booth, located near the racing ramp.

Halloween Candy Walk

The Halloween Candy Walk is sponsored by The Summerville Trion Optimist Club and will run from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The candy walk will be located down the East Washington Street Streetscape area. The East Washington Street Streetscape entrances beginning at US 27/Commerce Street and The University Street Intersection will close to traffic beginning Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. and remain closed until 3:00 p.m. Economy Street entrances to East Washington Street will also be closed during this time.

The participating businesses and organizations always enjoy this fun event and look forward to welcoming all the ghosts, ghouls, goblins and other costumed trick-or-treaters that will make their appearance at the annual Candy Walk. Businesses, churches, clubs, and civic organizations wishing to participate in handing out candy and treats to all the little spooks should contact Cindy Rivers at (706) 466-9014 for registration and details.

County Fined For Deficiencies In Tax Digest

Chattooga County has once again been fined for an insufficient tax digest.  It is not the first time the county’s tax digest has failed to pass muster with the Georgia Department of Revenue.

The tax digest is based on numbers compiled by the Chattooga County Tax Assessors Office and submitted to the tax commissioner.   The Chattooga County Board of Assessors is appointed by the county commissioner.

This year’s tax digest was conditionally approved by the state Department of Revenue, but failed to meet the 40% threshold required.  The letter to county stated, “The overall average assessment level of the assessments determined by the board of tax assessors for the 2020 digest is 36.97%…”

The county is being fined $5 per parcel for failure to reach the 40% assessment threshold.

Chattooga County Tax Commissioner Joy Hampton told WZQZ News, “I don’t really have anything to say about the letter until I learn more.  I do want people to understand that our operations are not affected and that tax bills are still due December 1st.”

The county is being fined $68,600.

Arrest Report - Thursday - October 21, 2021

Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Thursday, October 21, 2021:

Chattooga Lady Indians Head For Elite 8

The Chattooga Lady Indians are one step closer in their quest for the top as they make it to the next round of playoff action.  The Lady Indians won their game on Wednesday 8-7 over Berrian.  For the first time in school history, the Lady Indians are headed for the Elite 8 in Columbus.  Congratulations to the Chattooga Lady Indians!

Attempting To "Skip Scan" At Local Wal-Mart Fails For One Woman

One womans attempt to “skip scan” or not scan all of her items at the checkout, lead to her arrest for shoplifting at the Summerville-Trion Wal-Mart.

Around 2 pm on October 16th, Chattooga County Sheriff Deputies were dispatched to Wal-Mart in regards to a shoplifter. AP for Wal-Mart, Jerry Danks met with Deputies and explained what had happened. Danks stated that the suspect, Robin Cavin had been observed using the self-checkout, where she failed to scan all items that she had bagged. After placing all of the items in the bags, but only paying for a select number of them, Cavin then proceeded past all other points of sale (cash registers) where she was eventually stopped by some Wal-Mart employees. The total for the items not scanned came out to $83.68. Cavin was placed under arrest for theft by taking and transported to the Chattooga County Jail.