Cedar Creek Depositions begin next week, Judge rules

01/14/2022

Deposition of witnesses and principals in the Cedar Creek civil lawsuit can begin next week, Ad Hoc Judge Jimmie Peters ruled this morning in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in Ruston.

The suit was brought last year by the parents of a Cedar Creek student who allege that several other students bullied, assaulted and harassed their son, and that the school’s faculty and administrators knew of the situation, but failed to act

Last week, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, who is investigating any potential criminal wrongdoing, asked that the depositions be delayed until their investigation is complete.

The 3rd JD District Attorney recused his office from the case. Likewise, Peters was assigned the case after all the Third JD Court judges recused themselves.

Assistant AG Darwin Miller argued that the depositions might be detrimental to the state’s investigation, and could be unfair to any of the civil defendants who might become criminal defendants as a result of their investigation.

Miller called Ruston Police Chief Steve Rogers to the stand to bolster his argument, but the judge was not swayed. The Ruston PD is cooperating with the AG in the investigation.

Rogers noted that recently a potential witness contacted the investigators and wanted to make a statement. He also said that he had not read the lawsuit.

Throughout Miller’s arguments, it was evident that that the State was quite uncomfortable with both the civil litigation and the criminal investigations, perhaps because Attorney General Jeff Landry wants to run for governor of Louisiana, and a high-profile case like this could damage that effort.

The judge noted that there was no case law that supported the State’s argument, and that their argument was basically what “could” happen.

Arguing for the school, Monroe attorney Jan Christiansen noted that criminal and civil cases often parallel each other, and this one was no different.

Appearing for the plaintiff, Johnny Dollar said his client was not opposed to the speedy depositions.

WBRZ-TV: Second-in-command at State Police implicated in Ronald Greene cover-up

01/13/2022

WBRZ-TV2 – Baton Rouge – Chris Nakamoto and Erin McWilliams

See here the complete report.

Of interest to the local area is this passage in LSP Investigator Albert Paxton’s notes:

“Cain tells the DA Greene screamed out because a taser probe was being removed. Doug Cain defends Clary. Doug Cain does not want Clary prosecuted… Doug Cain appears angry the DA is even thinking about it.”

Cain is Louisiana State Police Chief of Staff Lt. Colonel Doug Cain.

Lincoln Hall now Part of Exhibition Center

01/12/2022

On a 8-1 vote, the Lincoln Parish Police Jury last night decided that it could run the heretofore privately operated Lincoln Hall, and make money doing it. The plan is for the 8400 square foot meeting hall and kitchen to be run by North Louisiana Exhibition Center personnel.

The jury will pay leaseholder Carl Burton $210 thousand for the remaining 10 years on the existing lease.

Voting for the proposed agreement were: Wyatt, Durrett, Cranford, Scriber, Pullin, Henderson, Melton, and Straughter. Russell voted no.

Hunter, Hunt, and Mayfield were absent.

Parish Administrator Doug Postel said many individuals and organizations called the Expo Center and tried unsuccessfully to rent the venue, as it was run by Burton and his wife.

Said Postel, “She (Expo center director Angela Manning) gets calls on a weekly basis from individuals that would like to use the building for various events.”

He said schools, companies, bingo groups, family reunions, and quilting clubs were examples of who had expressed interest in renting the venue.

Postel said the estimates for revenues and expenses for the operation were “conservative.”

See here the hoped for payout.

Manning said she was willing to book and operate Lincoln Hall.

“If I had the book, I would know what’s going on at the expo and what’s going on out there (the hall), we could actually make it more user friendly,” she said. “I think it would work well together,” she said.

One juror asked about potential maintenance issues, to which Postel said he wasn’t aware of any, and thought the building had been well maintained.

Russell noted that since the lease had but 10 years to run, after which the juror would get the operation for no cost, it wasn’t a good deal.

We asked why no one had encouraged Burton to fulfill his part of the agreement and actually operate the facility, Postel said that his wife had suffered recent illnesses.

In other business, the jury elected Richard Durrett as president, and Milton Melton as vice-president.

School Administration Confirms FLAIR Resumption

01/12/2022

It’s official. Lincoln parish schools will continue to offer the Foreign Language Academic Immersion (FLAIR) program into the third grade for school year 2022-23. New kindergarten applicants will also be accepted.

Chief Academic Officer Lisa Bastion told last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board, “After we had met with parent groups – listened to their concerns – we have also met from someone with the state department (of education) along with the coordinator of CODOFIL where the teachers come from – we have notified Corrine Nutt who is our program coordinator here in the district – she’s one of our teachers – and we’ve also notified a parent leader from the French Immersion family, to inform them that we will proceed for the 2022-23 year with French Immersion.”

She went on to say that the program will involve kindergarten through the third grade.

She added, “There are a lot of details to work out,” and “we will make sure the parents are aware” when decisions are made.

The meeting saw the unanimous election of a new board President for the coming year.

District three’s David Gullatt was elected to that post, and Lynda Henderson was re-elected as Vice-President. Gullatt was nominated by David Ferguson.

Several reports were made to the board, including the monthly personnel report.

FLAIR said to Continue at Lincoln Schools

01/10/2022

The Foreign Language Academic Immersion (FLAIR) program at Lincoln Parish Schools will apparently continue into the third grade and K2, as well as class openings for next year’s K1, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) has learned.

LPNO has spoken to parents of children enrolled enrolled in the program who said they had received a text message informing them of the program’s continuation.

Last November, it was announced that the program would be terminated at the end of this school year, but vociferous push-back from parents at the December board meeting and at an open forum held several days later apparently had persuaded school administrators to reconsider.

We have reached out to the school system administration, and are awaiting official confirmation. We will update as we learn more.

Meanwhile, the regular monthly meeting of the school board will be held tomorrow (1/11/22), 6:00 PM, Lincoln Parish STEM Center, 525 Tarbutton Road.

Here is the agenda.

Lincoln Hall Lease Issue Resurfaces

01/08/2022

After nearly five years of relative quiet, the issue of whether or not the Lincoln Parish Police Jury should buy out Burton Entertainment’s lease on Lincoln Hall will be on next Tuesday’s jury agenda.

The 60′ x 140′ meeting hall style building is located adjacent to the North Louisiana Exhibition Center, just off the Farmerville Hwy about three miles from Ruston.

In 2002, Carl Burton signed a thirty year lease whereby in exchange for use of the parish-owned land, he would construct and operate the hall as a venue for weddings, receptions, meetings, reunions, and other such group events. The facility has a commercial kitchen for meal preparation.

The latest proposed agreement would have Lincoln Parish taxpayers pay $210 thousand for the 10 or so years remaining on the lease and would include the purchase of furniture, equipment, and cookware. The building already belongs to the parish, as it was constructed on parish property.

To our recollection, the jury has not recently discussed or authorized any negotiation with Burton for the lease.

The issue was debated by the jury in 2014 and 2017, but was deferred or tabled. In 2017, an unsuccessful effort was made to amend the parish’s liquor ordinance and allow alcohol to be served at the hall.

Tuesday’s (1/11/22) meeting is at 7:00 PM, Lincoln Parish Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Ruston Council District Reapportionment Process Begun

01/04/2022
Present City Alderman Districts

Last night’s city council meeting saw adoption of an ordinance that will enable the city’s five aldermanic district borders to be shifted to reflect changing population numbers. Representative districts all across the nation are redrawn after each 10 year census counts.

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker said that two of the five districts’ population were outside the guidelines required by the U. S. Justice Department.

Said Walker, “District one was 10.06% negative – so they had a decline in population. Two was minus 4.04, three was plus 2.35, four was a minus 1.83, and five was a plus 13.60.”

“So all these have to fall under 10%,” he added.

Walker went on to say that next month a plan would be presented to the council that will address the issue.

The council also approved “refinancing” about $18 million in bonds at a lower interest rate that would save the city about $700 thousand over the life of the bonds, about 8 years.

The new interest rate is 1.85% vs the existing 3.07%.

City Council Meets Monday

01/02/2022

Ruston’s Board of Alermen will meet Monday, January 3, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Police Jury approves Capital Plan for Roads and Bridges

12/15/2021

Four parish road bridges are scheduled to be replaced in 2022, according to the capital plan that was approved by the Lincoln Parish Police Jury at last night’s meeting.

Two bridges on Mondy Rd in the southwest part of the parish will be replaced, a bridge on Mitchell Rd. north of Simsboro also, and a bridge on Shady Grove Rd southwest of Simsboro will be replaced with two 10 foot rail tank car culverts.

Parish Administrator Doug Postel noted that the two bridges on Mondy Rd will be done simultaneously to save costs.

“We’re doing those at the same time because there’s a considerable cost savings,” he said.

See here the complete plan.

Several budgets received final approval including:

Road Superintendent Jerry Doss reported that right-of-way mowing had been completed for the year, and that next month the mowing crews will begin trimming tree limbs along parish roads.

New Interview with French Immersion parent

12/14/2021

ATL Ruston All Things Local-Ruston, Louisiana

Interview with Sara Shadoin Duke