The meeting started off with an impassioned presentation from a local citizen – one Nicole Patterson – who claimed her eight year old son had been infected by West Nile Virus.
However, we were unable to confirm Patterson’s allegation, at least as of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital’s (DHH) weekly report dated October 5. Doctors and laboratories are required by law to report cases to public health authorities.
DHH’s Region Eight office in Monroe told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) that a case of the Neuro-Invasive Human West Nile virus has not been reported in Jackson Parish since 2003.
Patterson said her son’s disease is the result of racism and dirty politics that prevented the town and parish from spraying for mosquitoes.
Said Patterson, “I blame every official that holds a title with the city, parish, or state for not taking care of real issues and real important business at hand, and not so damn concerned about the mayor’s skin complexion.” She added, “And now, we’ve had to pull a state official to this racist town to do the job that others were elected to make sure that the jobs were taken care of. It makes me sick to my stomach, and unfortunately it made my baby boy sick.”
Reportedly, the town has had in years past a mosquito trapping program to test for the virus, along with periodic spraying, but that has not been done for the past two years.
District B’s Renee Stringer noted that she had requested several times that the program be re-instituted.
For his part, the town’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson said he was attempting to get personnel certified in handling pesticides that are used in the spray program.
Another issue that generated a bit of discussion was a resolution that will transfer assignment of several vehicles from the Jonesboro Police Department (JPD).
Ever since the mayor and board slashed the JPD’s budget to about $95 thousand/year last July, several cars assigned to the department have been stored at Chief Wesley Horton’s house. As the budget isn’t enough to fund patrol officers to man the cars, they have been idle since.
Thompson said that storing the cars on private property was a problem, and that they could be better used elsewhere within other departments in the town.
However, it was suggested during the discussion that since the police cars have extensive communications and radar equipment that is built in, the cost of removing that equipment and then reinstalling it (if department personnel are reinstated in the future) would be almost as great as buying a new car.
Said audience member Johnny Runyon, “Where’s the money going to come from to take all the equipment out of these vehicles – radios and things like that – and then if the police department is put back in force, then you’ve got the expense of putting all that equipment back in there, plus the possibility of this equipment being damaged.” He added, “You can almost buy a new car, for what that equipment in each one of those cars costs.”
The resolution was tabled pending an attorney general’s opinion on the matter.
We will have additional reporting on the rest of the meeting later.