Former Lincoln Parish School Board Member Cited

01/22/2019

Eddie Milton Jones, a former Lincoln Parish School Board member (District 2) was last year cited by the Louisiana Board of Ethics and fined for violation of the state’s nepotism law.

Jones was cited thus:

…that Eddie M. Jones, while serving as a member of the Lincoln Parish School Board, violated La. R.S. 42:1 l19B by virtue of the employment of his son, Otis Jones, with the Lincoln Parish School Board.

The younger Jones was employed as a paraprofessional at the Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home in 2013. Since the children’s home receives school board funding for a Title I program position, it was ruled that his employment was a violation.

Eddie Jones served on the school board from 2007 to 2015, and was defeated in 2014 by incumbent David Ferguson.

A $1000 joint penalty was levied against Eddie and Otis Jones, to be paid in full by 11/15/18.

While the violation occurred in 2013, the investigation was conducted in secret and the findings were not released until this past December.

See here the complete Ethics Board document.

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Ouachita Parish Police Jury Tomorrow

01/21/2019

It’s been a while since we’ve covered a meeting of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury, but a couple of items on tomorrow night’s agenda have stimulated our interest.

Late last year, University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) President Nick Bruno talked the jury into adding an agenda item thus: “Notice of Intent to Call an Election”

The Ouachita Citizen’s Zach Parker picked up on the item and had this front-page story here: ULM unveils tax proposal, questions raised

In another story last week, Parker wrote that the proposal has virtually no chance of passing, as most of the jurors had received overwhelming opposition from their constituents.

Bruno, however, has also been busy, emailing ULM employees and asking them to be at tomorrow’s meeting.

Here’s the brochure published detailing where the money is to go.

Success for the ULM plan would no doubt tempt other Louisiana higher education institutions to try the same scheme in their parishes. Lincoln Parish has two universities – Grambling State University and Louisiana Tech.

Another item on the agenda is renewal of a cooperative endeavor agreement between the Lincoln Parish Detention Center and Green Oaks Juvenile Detention Center. As Lincoln Parish has no facilities to house underage inmates, Green Oaks has been used in the past for that role.

The meeting will be at 5:30 PM tomorrow (1/22/19) at the Ouachita Parish Courthouse, second floor. We’ll be there.

Here’s the agenda.

In Today’s Mail

01/15/2019

This arrived in our mail today. Postmarked Shreveport, LA, 1/14/19. No return address.

The First Amendment in action.

Roberson, Henderson Re-elected @ LPPJ

01/10/2019

Randy Roberson (District Four), and Joe Henderson (District Nine) were re-elected as President and Vice-President respectively at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury.

The first meeting of the new year was held at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center, due to elevator repair work at the Lincoln Parish Court House.

Skip Russell (District Eight) nominated both Roberson and Henderson.

When it came time to elect the Treasurer – a requirement of LA state law – there was a bit of active discussion.

Some jurors wanted Interim Treasurer Holly Lowery to be elected, and others wanted to advertise for more candidates.

Hazel Hunter (District Two) moved “…that position be advertised, also applications made, and interviews according to how our policies and procedures state.”

Parish Administrator Courtney Hall noted that Lowry was well qualified and that she had done a good job in the interim position. He also said that since he was retiring later this year, continuity was needed in the jury’s management.

Hall had told the jury last year of his plans.

Henderson said, “I’m a stickler for the rules. We’re not voting for a treasurer, we’re voting for the procedure.”

Russell said, “We’re going to lose Holly, and then we’re going to lose him (Hall), and I’d like to know who’s going to step forward and run this thing.”

Voting for the Motion was Wyatt, Hunter, Bennett, Henderson, Wilson, Mayfield, and Straughter. Voting no were Roberson, Hammons, Pullen, and Russell.

Backus was absent.

Afterwards, a motion to keep Lowry as Interim Treasurer was passed unanimously.

A Plenitude of LPSO Deputies @ Cypress Springs Elem Yesterday

01/09/2019

A notable item at yesterday morning’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board was the presence of several Lincoln Parish School Resource Officers at the Cypress Springs Elementary School off Maple Avenue.

Part of the discussion about more taxes for Lincoln Parish property owners had been the claim that more officers were needed to protect parish schoolchildren. For sure, there was no shortage of deputies yesterday.

Perhaps those officers were there to make sure the handful of uppity taxpayers who dared to show up at the meeting to question the new tax plan didn’t become too unruly.

After all, we can’t allow the folks who actually pay the bills have a say in how the money’s spent, can we?

Service Road/Cooktown Corner added to District

01/09/2019

A three-acre tract of land at the immediate northeast corner of Cooktown Road and the North I-20 Service Road will be added to the Cooktown Road Economic Development District, if an ordinance introduced at Monday night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council is enacted.

The original district, created in late 2017, consists of 15 1/2 acres, and is now being developed by Chattanooga, TN-based Hutton Company.

According to Ruston City Attorney Bill Carter, Hutton recently acqired the 3 acre corner, and asked for it to be included into the district.

There was a bit of discussion about a resolution authorizing property acquisition for phase 4 of the Rock Island Greenway Project.

That part of the project runs from West Texas Avenue near South Monroe Street southward to West California near Henderson Street, approximately 1400 feet, according to the city’s Andrew Halbrook.

Kevin Crume asked for an update on the project’s total costs so far.

Halbrook said that phase two, about 11,000 feet, cost about $540 thousand. Phase 3 was about $740 thousand. Both parts each received $89 thousand in state grants.

Phase 4 cost estimates are about $350 thousand, he said, and a grant commitment has been received from the state.

After the meeting, the council and mayor were sworn in for their new terms by Third Judicial District Judge Jeff Robinson.

Lincoln School Tax Plan Deleted from Agenda

01/08/2019

In a surprise move, the Lincoln Parish School Board this morning removed a planned tax vote from the board’s agenda.

Had the board vote taken place and approved, a May, 2019 parish-wide tax election would have been called. If passed, the plan would have levied an additional 11.6 mil property tax to pay for various school programs and capital improvements.

See here the resolution.

Making the motion to amend the agenda was Danny Hancock (District 5), and seconding was Lisa Best (District 8).

The motion passed unanimously on a roll call vote.

Board President Joe Mitcham (District 6) said that more discussion needed to take place before any tax election could be held.

Said Mitcham, “We going to study it further – there’s several issues on that we need to consider. As of this time, it’s not going to be on the ballot.”

Reportedly, school board members heard from many of their constituents who were vociferously opposed to a new tax.

Several citizens – and at least one Police Juror – were in the audience who appeared to be ready to speak against the plan.

In other business the board re-elected Joe Mitcham as President, and Lynda Henderson as Vice-President.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday

01/07/2019

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet Tuesday, January 8, 7:00 PM. Due to elevator repairs at the Lincoln Parish Court House, the meeting will be held at the Lincoln Parish Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Here’s the agenda.

Ruston City Council Monday

01/06/2019

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, January 7, 2019, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here’s the agenda.

Of note is this item to be considered:

Consider Resolution No. ________ of 2019, Authorizing the Publication of a Notice of Intention to (I) Expand the Boundaries of the Cooktown Road Economic Development District of the City of Ruston, State of Louisiana, and (II) Extend the Levy and Collection of the District’s Existing Sales and Use Tax into the Expanded Area of the District, all in Accordance with as Authorized by Part II, Chapter 27 of Title 33 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, as Amended; and Providing for Other Matters in Connection Therewith

Lincoln School Board to Vote on Property Tax Hike

01/03/2019

The Lincoln Parish School Board will vote next Tuesday on whether or not to proceed with a May 4 parish-wide property tax referendum for assorted capital projects and school operations. If the board votes no, the tax proposition dies. If the board votes yes, an election will be scheduled.

The two resolutions would levy a 9.8 mil tax for ten years for operations, and a 1.8 mil tax for twenty years for the capital projects.

See here the resolutions.

See here a breakdown on how the money is to be spent.

The two largest expenditures for the operations tax are $1.2 million for the summer school program and $1.4 million for general operations.

The largest capital project is $4 million for construction of sixth-grade classrooms at Ruston Junior High. Currently, sixth-graders attend I. A. Lewis. That facility will be used for the summer school program.

The meeting will be Tuesday, January 8, 10:30 AM, Cypress Springs School, 1040 Saratoga Street.

Here’s the agenda.