Bill to Divide Judicial District Deferred in Committee

05/22/2019

A bill that would have divided the Third Judicial District (Lincoln, Union Parishes) into two independent judicial districts was involuntarily deferred in a senate committee yesterday.

The vote was unanimous.

Senate Bill 202 would have created a new district attorney’s office for Union Parish only.

The bill provided for an election, and would require that the plan be approved by voters in both parishes prior to implementation.

Presently, Lincoln and Union Parishes share a district attorney and three judges.

The new district would have allocated one judge for the new district, and two for Lincoln Parish.

Senator Mike Walsworth (District 33) sponsored the bill, and spoke for it.

During the hearing, several committee members spoke against the bill, citing costs. Newly elected Judge Bruce Hampton was seen in the audience, but did not testify.

See here the video of the hearing.

The bill was considered immediately after the committee convened, so the pertinent testimony is at the beginning.

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Pullen Joins Race for Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor

05/19/2019

Lincoln Parish Police Juror Walter Pullen today announced his candidacy for Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor in the fall election.

Pullen said his decision came after prayerful consideration and at the encouragement of constituents and local business leaders. He said he believes being assessor would give him an opportunity to better serve the taxpayers of Lincoln Parish.

For seven years, Pullen has served on the board of review for the tax assessments as a member of the police jury, and said he’s noticed “with great alarm, the ever-increasing number of individual tax payers who year in and year out come before the jury to appeal their property tax assessments.”

Pullen said he believes “it’s time we put ‘fair’ back in ‘fair market value’ for property evaluations.”
After reviewing the most recent Louisiana Legislative Auditor Report, Pullen said he noticed that even though the assessor’s office operates on an annual budget of less than $1 million a year, the office has over $3 million in surplus funds.

Pullen said that beginning on day one of his administration as tax assessor, his No. 1 priority would be putting the individual homeowner and tax payer first.

Furthermore, Pullen said he plans to begin immediately returning at least a million dollars of the surplus funds back to the taxpayers of Lincoln Parish.

Pullen came to Ruston to attend Louisiana Tech in 1984—where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree—and has never left.

“Ruston and Lincoln Parish are where my heart is,” he said.

Upon graduating college, Pullen entered into the pharmaceutical industry where he worked for a successful start-up company. During his career, Pullen was a well-known sales trainer, sales supervisor, district manager and regional manager. He managed multi-state districts with revenues well exceeding the annual budget of the assessor’s office.

After retiring from the pharmaceutical industry, Pullen dedicated his time to the police jury, where he has served two terms.

As a police juror, Pullen said he has helped saved taxpayers almost a million dollars through his position as chairman of the Solid Waste and Recycling Committee.

He said one of the things he’s most proud of in all of his years on the police jury is that he’s never voted for an increase in property taxes and has helped lead the charge to cut the total property millages every year for the past six years.

Pullen said his drive to give back to the community is what inspired him to run for the police jury in the fall of 2011. Now, this need to serve is what’s compelled him to run for tax assessor, he said.
Pullen said he has the professional training and educational background for assessor’s position, and he would like the opportunity to bring those skills to the office of tax assessor.

He and his wife, Heather Pullen, have raised three children—Auldon, Addison and Brittain — while living in Ruston.

Both Auldon and Addison graduated from Ruston High School, and the youngest child, Brittain, attends Ruston High now where he is enrolled in the special education program.

Through the years, Pullen has been involved in leading adult and youth Sunday school classes and leading youth programs at Trinity United Methodist Church, where he and his family are members, coaching youth sports teams, and volunteering throughout the community.

“The community of Ruston has been such a blessing to me and my family, I’ve been inspired to return that kindness through service to my community,” Pullen said. “I have been overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the Ruston community and everything the people of Ruston have done for my family and me.”

He said that generosity had led him to feel called to serve in a way he feels most beneficial: local government.

Jail Addition Delays Discussed at Meeting

05/16/2019

This morning’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center saw discussion about delays in getting approval for a US Department of Agriculture loan to construct a 100 bed addition to the local jail.

Detention Center Warden Jim Tuten noted that this year’s original budget called for occupancy of the new wing around mid-year, but that was not now possible. About $700/day is spent housing overflow prisoners in other area jails, Tuten said.

Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone asked Lincoln Parish Police Jurors (LPPJ) Joe Henderson (District 9) and Randy Roberson (District 4) “What was the holdup.” Henderson chairs the commission, while Roberson, as LPPJ President, is also a commission member.

It appears that part of the delay was because the application was sent to the USDA office in Monroe, which was subsequently closed during the government shutdown earlier this year, and the paperwork was misplaced.

Henderson and Roberson noted that the sheriff was in charge of seeing that the process is properly followed, and that they were unaware of any issues.

Henderson said that while the delay was unfortunate, the jails budget has a comfortable surplus that can handle any short-term issues.

Also, Tuten reported that the jail didn’t escape last month’s tornado unscathed, as about 50 feet of the permiter fence was damaged.

Jury Hears Tornado Report

05/15/2019

“This is the largest disaster that’s ever hit Lincoln Parish.”

So said Kip Franklin, Director of Lincoln Parish’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness to last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), after his report on the events following last month’s tornado event.

Franklin gave credit to area first responders who were on the scene within minutes of the storm.

Also singled out for praise were Solid Waste Superintendent Cary Outley, Road Superintendent Jerry Doss, and their crews.

Both Franklin and jury Administrator Courtney Hall noted that Outley and the landfill crew worked many overtime hours dawn to dusk in the days following the storm.

We can attest first-hand to Doss’ arrival at daylight with a trackhoe and fleet of dump trucks to begin clearing the streets in the Burgessville Road area, which had significant damage.

Annette Straughter (District 12) said the Barnett Springs area of her district received significant damage.

“I just cannot thank you guys enough. I really appreciate all the work you did,” she said.

During the Solid Waste & Recycling Committee meeting, there was a bit of discussion about litter pickup.

Bobby Bennett (District 3) said he had been getting complaints from constituents. He suggested that the two man crew that has been hired by the jury might be more efficient if furnished with four-wheelers.

Others seemed cool to the idea, noting that liability might be an issue, and that some of the parish road ditches are too rough to be traversed by the vehicles.

It was decided to see how other parishes handle the issue.

In the past, it was a common sight to see parish prisoners working litter pickup, but most of the prisoners are now farmed out on work release programs.

Sheriff’s candidate George Webb (who was at the meeting) promised that if elected, he would see that adequate manpower would be available for that duty.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tomorrow

05/13/2019

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet tomorrow (Tuesday, May 14), Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here are the committee meeting times and their agendas.

Sold Waste & Recycling Committee – 6:00 PM
agenda

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM
agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
agenda

Ruston City Council Tonight

05/06/2019

Ruston’s City Council will meet tonight (Monday, May 6), 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here’s the agenda.

Notable is a resolution to engage an architect for Phase II of the sports complex on South Farmerville St.

Mays Found Guilty of Murder

05/05/2019

Cameron Mays, 33, was last night found guilty of the murder of retired Grambling professor Susan Hashway, who was found dead in her Paynter Drive home in Ruston in June, 2012.

A Lincoln Parish jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts on five separate charges: aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, unauthorized use of an access card, and second-degree murder.

Comprehensive coverage of last week’s trial can be found in the Ruston Daily Leader’s articles by reporters Nancy Bergeron and Caleb Daniels.

Mays trial to begin Monday
Murder trial for man accused of killing GSU teacher begins
No opening statement made by defense
Testimony underway in Mays murder trial
Medical examiner: Murder victim suffocated
Prosecutors: Rape, murder cases similar

Our earlier reporting on the case can be found here.

McBride Announces for Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor

05/04/2019

Billy Mac McBride, Jr. announced today that he is a candidate for Assessor of Lincoln Parish.

McBride is the Chief Deputy Assessor for Lincoln Parish. As a Certified Deputy Assessor, McBride is involved in the valuation process of land, buildings, drilling rigs, oil and gas wells, cell towers, pipelines, and all general businesses as well as overseeing the daily operation of the Assessor’s office.

“Lincoln Parish has blessed me with so many opportunities,” McBride said.

“I’m running because I want to continue serving the people of Lincoln Parish. My wife and I are proud to call Lincoln Parish home.”

McBride said his campaign platform will be to work with all residents and businesses to ensure that assessments are fair and equitable. McBride added that both his experience in the private sector and in the government will give him a foundation to address the issues facing Lincoln Parish.

“Lincoln Parish is one of the brightest lights when it comes to economic development and entrepreneurship,” McBride said.

“ I want to work with our elected officials and community leaders to ensure that Lincoln Parish’s economic progress continues to grow stronger in the next few years.”

McBride was the Ruston OTASCO store Assistant Manager before he began working for the Weyerhaeuser Plywood Division in 1986. After 23 years with Weyerhaeuser, he accepted a position at the Lincoln Parish Assessor’s Office where he has served for the past 10 years.

McBride is a member of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO). He is a Certified Louisiana Deputy Assessor (CLDA) with over 240 hours of IAAO classroom education.

McBride is a graduate of Lincoln Leadership XXXII. He is a member of Ruston-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, Lincoln Rotary Club, Ruston Community Men’s Shed, NRA, and National Wild Turkey Federation.

Billy Mac and Janet Hall McBride have been married for 35 years. They have two children, Ashley McBride and Adam McBride, who is married to Tiffany Brown McBride. Billy Mac and Janet have two grandchildren, Tripp, age six, and Harper, age two.

For the past 10 years Janet has operated her own business, Janet McBride Court Reporting, in Ruston.
Billy Mac and Janet are members of First Baptist Church in Ruston.

Billy Mac enjoys spending time with his family and working with wood to create walking canes, furniture and other items.

Special Called City Council Meeting Tonight

04/30/2019

There will be a special called meeting of the Ruston City Council tonight (Tuesday, April 30), 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

…Declaring an Emergency Per La. R.S. 38:2211(5) and Authorizing City to Enter into Agreements and Contracts for Reconstruction and Repairs to Facilities of the City.

Here’s the agenda.

City Delinquent on Property Taxes

04/24/2019

The City of Ruston is delinquent on over $10 thousand in taxes owed on several parcels of land that are on the property tax rolls, according to documents from the Lincoln Parish Tax Collector’s Office.

Additionally, an $18 thousand tax bill on five hangers at the Ruston Regional Airport was paid three months late, resulting in an additional cost of $2,200 in fees and interest.

See here the document – 292 Aviation Blvd.

The other properties and the taxes owed are:

1409 Campbell St – $293.24

1814 Celebrity Dr – $960.77

2505 S Vienna St – $9,015.34

1300 Campbell St – $324.07

1304 Campbell St – $199.44

The Campbell St properties are located off Farmerville Hwy behind the RaceWay gas station. Those properties are to be a part of the North Service Road East re-route, when/if the project is funded.

The South Vienna property is the site of the former Campus Community Assembly of God Church, and is now being utilized as an office for Womack and Sons Construction Group.