Ouachita Juror wants “small fee” on Sparta users


Clampit touts ‘small fee’ on water users

By Zach Parker | zach@ouachitacitizen.com

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Vice President Jack Clampit says water users in the 16 parishes that tap the Sparta Aquifer as a groundwater resource should pay a “small fee.”

The revenues from a water meter fee or pumping fee could fund any water conservation efforts undertaken by the Louisiana Sparta Ground Water Commission. Clampit is the commission’s treasurer.

“There should be a small fee to help preserve the life of the Sparta,” said Clampit, who represents the Police Jury on the Sparta commission. “The amount of that fee should be set by the Legislature, not by the Commission.”

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Local Attorneys Swarm Jury Meeting


There was an interesting turn of events at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury – several area attorneys showed up in an effort to convince jurors to hire them instead of out-of-town lawyers, should they decide to become a plaintiff in a class-action suit against drug companies.

It all started when one of the jurors heard a pitch at the Police Jury Association state convention from New Orleans plaintiff attorney John Young, who is suing drug companies for the alleged over-use of prescription painkillers. Young has apparently had some success convincing other police juries around the state to sign on as plaintiffs, hoping to cash in on any settlement.

The juror invited Young to make his pitch to the LPPJ, and he did so at last month’s meeting. There was a resolution on the agenda Tuesday that, had it been adopted, would have made the LPPJ a plaintiff.

Local attorneys got wind of the deal, and came Tuesday night to make their pitch.

Present were Durrett Law & Title’s Andy Durrett and Mike Smith.

From Monroe came veteran attorney Johnny Dollar, who brought in talent from Houston, Mark Correro.

By the time they all finished, it was obvious that the jury realized that a near-feeding frenzy was about to be unleashed, and they began to back-pedal. No action was taken on the resolution to hire Young, and it is questionable whether the issue will ever show up on the agenda again.

One area resident, Dick Christian, had this to say: “Somebody, somewhere is writing a scrip. The one that gets that drug in the patients hand is the doctor that writes that scrip. If there’s an inordinate amount of scrips being written in the parish, who’s writing them? Go after that person. This is something I’d like Lincoln Parish not to get involved in.”

He added, “Obesity probably links to a large percentage of the money the state has to spend (on Medicaid). Are you going to go after food manufacturers and the trucks that bring it in? If they can do it against one group, they can do it to another.”

In other business, the jury hired Meyer, Meyer, Lacroix & Hixson to do design for an addition at the exhibition center. Asked how much the contract would be for, Parish Administrator Courtney Hall said the usual fee is about 6% of a project’s cost. The budget for the covered warm-up area at the center is about $850 thousand.

Sparta Commission’s Spivey: “We’ve Changed Direction”


Saying the Sparta Ground Water Commission had received significant pushback from area local governments on the commission’s recent efforts to take control of the Sparta Aquifer, commission Chair Zack Spivey asked the other commissioners to garner input to guide future efforts.

Said Spivey, “I think I’ve kinda guided our organization in a direction that maybe got too far ahead of the bodies that nominate us. We didn’t bring them along with us. We asked for something, and there was pretty strong opposition to what I was wanting to do. So we’ve changed direction.”

The commissioners are recommended for appointment by local governing bodies, cities, and industry groups in a 16 parish area of North Louisiana.

The remarks came at yesterday’s meeting of the commission in Jonesboro.

Spivey asked the other commissioners to stay closely in touch with local governments and industry groups.

“We need to find out what those agencies, bodies, companies, that nominate our commissioners, where we would like to be going. If we try to get too far ahead of them, they may have some ideas that they don’t want us to go there,” Spivey said.

Spivey also noted the recent successful efforts to reduce demand on the aquifer, one being the use of wastewater from an Arcadia chicken processing plant for leaching salt from underground domes. These domes are then employed as natural gas storage areas that hold gas in reserve for high winter demand.

Also, the Town of Homer is using their treated sewage output to irrigate the municipal golf course.

Over the past several years, total demand on the aquifer has declined from a high of about 70 million gallons/day to about 55 million gallons/day.

Earlier, the group amended the minutes of the 1/10/18 meeting where an illegal secret session was held.

Spivey blamed the mistake on “bad advice from counsel.”

LPPJ Votes to Proceed on $64 Thousand Asst Admin Hire


Despite the best efforts of District Three Juror Bobby Bennett to convince his fellow committee members otherwise, the Personnel/Benefits Committee of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury voted begin the process of hiring an Assistant Parish Administrator, at a $63,793.67 yearly salary. Jody Backus’ (District Seven) motion was to begin advertising for applicants, interview the applicants, and make a hire within the next three months.

Voting for the motion were Backus, Hazel Hunter (District Two), and Annette Straughter (District Twelve).

Bennett voted against the motion.

Parish Administrator Courtney Hall told the jurors that he intended to retire at the end of 2019, and that the position was included in the jury administration organizational charts.

Bennett said the year and a half time period until Hall retires, with an assistant on the payroll, was too long.

“There’s not a man around this table that had a business that would pay someone for a year and a half to be an assistant, Bennett said.”

Jury President Randy Roberson (District Four) said that there needed to be “continuity” when Hall retires.

Notable was the disagreement between Roberson and Bennett, who normally vote together on issues.

Roberson: “I’ll say this about the money. That money would not hire a mechanic where I work.”

Bennett: “Well, you’re with a big oil company. That’s a lot of difference when people have a lot of money to throw around. They can hire people they don’t need.”

Hall’s salary with benefits is about $130 thousand/year.

We will have additional reporting later on what else took place at the meeting.

Sparta Commission Meets Wednesday in Jonesboro


The Sparta Groundwater Commission will meet tomorrow (Wednesday, April 11), 2:00 PM, Dr. Charles H. Garrett Community Center, 182 Industrial Drive, Jonesboro.

Here is the agenda.

LPPJ to Hire Engineer for Exhibition Center Addition


Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix & Hixon, an Alexandria-based engineering company with a branch office in Ruston, will be considered for a contract relative to the proposed Covered Warm-up Area addition at the North Louisiana Exhibition Center on Fairgrounds Road.

The proposed action item is on the agenda for tomorrow night’s (Tuesday, April 10) meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Several committees will meet prior to the full jury meeting.

Public Works Committee – 5:30 PM

Personnel – 6:00 PM

This committee meeting has an interesting proposal to consider – the hiring of an Assistant Parish Administrator. Here are the proposed qualifications. No salary range is specified.

Marketing & Public Relations – 6:30 PM

RHS Football Hi-tech Scoreboard This Summer


Come the middle of this summer, The Ruston High School Football program will have a flashy new scoreboard at James Field, it was told at yesterday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

Shreveport Neon Signs was the winning bidder for the project at $395 thousand. More than half the cost will be funded by donations raised among the school’s boosters, with the balance coming from the district’s capital projects budget.

RHS Principal Ricky Durrett said there is a program already in place for students to operate the system.

“It’ll be part of a class. You have about fifteen kids that’ll be in there, and they’ll operate the cameras that run it, and operate the actual digital board, do replays, and put up advertisements during the game,” said Durrett.

During the comments section of the meeting, District Superintendent Mike Milstead said the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Center project will get underway within the next two to three months, and is expected to be ready for the Fall, 2019 school term. A director will be named soon, he added.

District 1 board member Susan Wiley had some remarks about the recent Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) state conference in Lafayette that she attended as a chaperone.

Said Wyly, “Our students performed very well – they were awesome. All of schools had so many winners in so many events – first, second, and third place winners will go on to nationals in Boston this summer.”

She added, “As a parent, FBLA is so positive for students, no matter what they plan to pursue or major in.”

Rough Edge Interchange Engineering to Begin


A Rough Edge Road/I-20 interchange moved a step closer to reality at last night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council, when approval was granted for Stantec Consulting to begin a traffic analysis for the project.

Rough Edge Road is about halfway between the Farmerville Road exit and the Choudrant exit on Interstate 20 east of town. The North Service Road extension that is now under construction past Tractor Supply will eventually link up with Rough Edge, and the interchange when it is built.

City Engineer John Freeman said the contract was for $347 thousand, and should be complete in 8 t0 10 months.

In other business, the city’s audit for the year ending 9/30/17 was presented, and it was unqualified (finances are accurately reported and presented), and with no findings.

City Clerk Laura Hartt said that the city’s unassigned fund balance was over $6 million, up from about $800 thousand the year before. She said the increase was the result of the first full year of collections from the 3/4 cent sales tax passed in 2016.

The audit was done by West Monroe CPA Cameron Hines & Co., in cooperation with Ruston CPA Doug Brewer.

It is notable that the audit covers the last year that retired City Clerk Emmett Gibbs was in charge of the city’s books. Gibbs retired last fall after 12 years at Ruston.

Lincoln Parish School Board Meets Tomorrow


The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet Tuesday, April 3, 10:30 AM, Ruston Junior High, 481 Tarbutton Road.

Here’s the agenda.

Ruston City Council Monday


Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, April 2, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here’s the agenda.