4 Paws Defunded by Police Jury

10/13/2021

4 Paws Rescue, a Ruston-based non-profit that provides food, shelter, and medical care for stray dogs was denied a $24 thousand funding request by a unanimous vote of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury at last night’s meeting.

For 2021, the agency was given $24 thousand, and in 2020, $36 thousand was allocated. Funding for 4 Paws has been allocated by the jury in various amounts since we began coverage in 2009.

Parish Administrator Doug Postel said the parish has a comprehensive animal control program, with the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office implementing it through their animal control officer.

Said Postel, “I don’t know if we have utilized the services of 4 Paws this year – maybe less than ten times have we taken any animals there.”

He added that most animals are taken to Ouachita Parish which has a network of rescue facilities that they work with. Ouachita Parish is paid on a per animal basis, which is what the jury would propose to do in the future for any local facility, he said.

The jury’s Finance Committee recommended – and the full jury approved – all the other entities’ funding requests for 2022. See here the complete list.

Also approved was a 2 1/2% cost of living raise for all parish employees.

A special called meeting of the jury was scheduled for Tuesday, November 16, 5:15 PM to canvass the election results of the upcoming election set for Saturday, November 13. Among the items on the ballot is a 4.49 mil property tax to fund the Lincoln Parish Library.

Last December, a 5.85 mil tax proposal was defeated by Lincoln Parish voters.

The jury also adopted a resolution of condolence on the death of long-time former District Three juror Bobby Bennett. The resolution noted Bennett’s years of service and the many committees that he served on. See here the resolution.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday

10/10/2021

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet Tuesday, October 12, Lincoln Parish Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton. Here are the agendas:

Insurance Committee, 5:45 PM – agenda

Public Works Committee, 6:00 PM – agenda

Personnel/Benefits Committee, 6:15 PM – agenda

Finance Committee, 6:30 PM – agenda

Police Jury, 7:00 PM – agenda

National Merit Semi-Finalist Jason Willis Recognized

10/06/2021

Ruston High School Senior Jason Willis was recognized as a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

Assistant Superintendent John Young told the board that Willis was one of about 16 thousand semi-finalists nationwide. This number is less than 1% of all US high school seniors, he noted.

Said Young, “Jason will now continue in the competition for some 7500 national merit scholarships worth more than $30 million.” He added, “Over 90% of the semi-finalists will likely attain finalist standing, and about half the finalist ultimately win the National Merit Scholarship.”

Willis was at the meeting, along with his parents Gary and Amy.

The board scheduled a November 2 public meeting, where a resolution will be considered to call a March 26, 2022 election for re-imposition of two expiring property taxes.

Last voted upon in April, 2012, one of the taxes is parishwide and currently is levied at the rate of 9.44 mils, and the other is for the Ruston School District only, and costs property owners 2.28 mils.

Originally, the parishwide tax was approved for a rate of 10.25 mils, but the rate has incrementally declined as property values have increased.

The board approved the payment of November salary supplement checks in the amount of $3200 for certified employees and $1600 for non certified. Business Manager Juanita Duke said this was $200//$100 increase over the supplements paid last year at this time.

The personnel report was presented by Personnel Director Doris Lewis.

City Council Approves Downtown Project

10/05/2021

At last night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council approval was granted to move forward on Phase 6 of the ongoing Downtown Revitalization Project. This part will involve about seven blocks along and either side of Trenton Street south from West Alabama to Georgia Avenue.

The work will involve sidewalk and parking construction, burial of utilities, street lighting, and plantings.

Public Works Utilities Manager Andrew Halbrook said that Amethyst Construction of West Monroe was the low bidder. He also said that construction would begin after the first of the year, and would take about 20 months.

Another project about to begin is the second phase of obstruction removal at the Ruston Regional Airport.

Public Works Director John Freeman said this part of the project would acquire the grants from the Department of Transportation, and allow the city to obtain permission from the property owner for tree removal.

The council approved a subdivision on the I-20 North Service Road that will result in a new restaurant between Whataburger and Don Chuey.

Panda Express is a fast food chain with a Chinese menu, and has about 2,200 location across the US.

School Board Meets Tonight

10/05/2021

The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet tonight (Tuesday, October 5), 6:00 PM, Lincoln Parish S. T. E. M. Center, 525 Tarbutton Road.

Here is the agenda.

Ruston Board of Aldermen Tomorrow

10/03/2021

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, October 4, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here’s the agenda.

Bobby Gene Bennett: 1941-2021

10/01/2021

Bobby Gene Bennett

May 28, 1941 – October 01, 2021

Graveside services for Mr. Bobby Bennett, age 80 of Ruston will be held at 10:00AM, Tuesday, October 5, 2021, at Corinth Cemetery near Dubach, LA with Bro. Jeff Smart officiating.  

Bobby was born May 28, 1941, in Dubach, LA, where he was raised.  He retired in 1993 as a Lab Technician from Claiborne Gasoline Refinery in Lisbon, LA. Bobby was a lifelong member of Cook Baptist Church and he served on the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for 20 plus years, where he met many wonderful friends throughout the years.

Bobby was a Mason for more than 40 years. He enjoyed farming, raising cattle, and making land deals all his life. Bobby loved spending time with his grandkids, who he loved dearly. The highlight of his daily activity was having coffee each morning and eating hotdogs at Coney Island with his beloved friends every week.

Bobby is survived by his two sons: Brad Bennett and wife Beth of Ruston, LA; Rick Bennett and wife Natalie of Midway, CA; the mother of his children and great friend, Tawana Bennett; two granddaughters: Britton Bennett and Rachel Bennett; three grandsons: Larry Bennett; Bryant Bennett and Brycen Bennett; two great-grandchildren: Hailey Bennett and Ava Bennett; two step-grandchildren: Blake Cheatwood and Brooklyn Cheatwood; two nephews: Darrell Ferguson and Dennis Ferguson; and many numerous  family and friends.

Bobby is preceded in death by his parents: Ruby and Ben Frank Bennett; sister, Shelby Jean Ferguson; and brother, Junior Bennett.

The family would like to thank Best Home Health and staff also Premier Hospice and staff for all they did during his illness.  

Most Lincoln Parish DC Inmates not Vaxxed

09/30/2021

About 60% of the inmates now housed at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center are not vaccinated, Warden Jim Tuten told the quarterly meeting of the Detention Center Commission this morning.

Said Tuten, “Right now, about 40% of our inmates are vaccinated, and 60% refused to be vaccinated. Any time anybody comes in that’s been arrested, we ask them, we have a form they fill out and we ask them if they’ve had the inoculation, and if they answer no, we ask them do you want a shot, and the vast majority are refusing.”

However, Tuten said that only four inmates had tested positive for Covid-19 this year, and they all exhibited no symptoms. The jail continues to have an extensive disinfection and screening procedure in place, he said.

“We’re still taking every inmate’s temperature three times a day,” said Tuten. He added, “All of our employees – when we come in the morning, the first thing that happens, we take our temperature. We’re doing all that we can to try to protect our staff and our inmates.”

Tuten noted that as of midnight last night, the jail held 306 inmates, with 203 of them in pre-trial detainment.

The commission also set dates in November and December to adopt an amended budget for the current year, and a proposed budget for 2022.

Asked about the in-custody death of an inmate last week, Sheriff Stephen Williams said that the body had been sent to Little Rock, AR for autopsy by Dr. Frank Peretti of the Arkansas State Crime Lab.

Lincoln Parish Coroner Dr. Michael Belue will have to sign off on the findings, Williams said.

Detention Center Commission Thursday

09/28/2021

The Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission will meet Thursday, September 30, 10:00 AM, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

Jury Finance Committee Reviews Budget Requests

09/15/2021

Last night the Lincoln Parish Police Jury Finance Committee voted to review and consider 2022 budget requests from the several area agencies that depend partly on jury general fund monies for their operation.

See here the request letters.

Most agencies did not address the committee, but the three Third Judicial District (Lincoln, Union Parishes) were there and did speak to the committee. Among their requests were COLA raises for court reporters, renovations for the courtroom balcony, and a share of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 monies.

Division B Judge Tommy Rogers said that in light of recent court decisions, court funding from fines and court costs will probably decline in the future.

Said Rogers, “Recent federal and state appellate decisions have indicated that its going to be increasingly hard to help fund the court system in Louisiana with fines and court costs. And that is a huge chunk of our budget, the money that we get from the criminal court fund.”

One decision that appears to be pertinent is a 2019 case in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Cain, et al Vs Orleans Parish District Court.

The plaintiffs in that case alleged that the Judges’ practices in collecting criminal fines and fees violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment partly because the defendants ability to pay was not taken into consideration.

The Fifth also cited pertinent cases that examined the ways in which judges have an institutional interest in their judicial expense fund. It observed that the fines and fees revenue goes into that fund, over which the judges exercise total control.

In other words, the courts have a direct pecuniary interest in how much is collected in fines and court costs.

The full jury convened as Property Assessment Board of Review and unanimously voted to uphold Tax Assessor Billy McBride concerning a challenge from Regency Interstate Gas, LLC.

They also certified the assessment list to the Louisiana State Tax Commission.

During the reports, Parish Administrator Doug Postel briefly mentioned the upcoming November 13 library tax election and the narrow window available to certify the results before tax bills are sent to parish property owners.

Said Postel, “The library millage election that was originally to be held in October – statewide elections were moved by the Governor because of Hurricane Ida. That election will be now held on November 13. We have been working closely with Mr. McBride and the Sheriff on the timing of that election, making sure that we can get the votes canvassed and get the tax bills out. We will have a joint press release announcement about how that will unfold in the coming days.”