Archive for May, 2013

Homer, LA Update – 5/16/13 and 5/23/13

05/26/2013

Homer, LA Guardian-Journal – 5/16/13

Town’s health insurance reinstated
Police budget hearing set for this Thursday

Homer, LA Guardian-Journal – 5/23/13

Town prevails in budget hearing
Judge leaves door open for plaintiff to file additional grievances

State police now involved in town investigation

Two Applicants for RHS Principal

05/24/2013

The latest round of applications for Principal for Ruston High School (RHS) saw two applicants, neither of which are currently employed within the Lincoln Parish School District (LPSB).

Applying for the job were Barbara Robinson, 58, currently an assistant principal at West Ouachita High School; and Russell Farrar, 32, currently an assistant principal at Caldwell Parish High School.

Robinson, a 1973 Neville High School graduate, received all her higher education at Northeast Louisiana University (now ULM), up to and including her Masters plus 30. Degrees include Health & PE and Administration Supervision.

Her teaching experience has been all in Ouachita Parish schools, save one three-year stint in Donaldsonville, LA. She has been an assistant principal at three Ouachita schools since 1990.

Farrar is a 1999 graduate of Bernice High School. He graduated from Louisiana Tech in Health and Exercise Science, and received his Master’s of Education in Education Leadership from American College of Education in Indianapolis, IN.

Farrar taught algebra at West Ouachita until his move to Caldwell Assistant Principal last year.

More on Jonesboro Council Meeting

05/23/2013

The first half of yesterday’s meeting of Jonesboro’s Board of Alderman was taken up by a report by J. Walker & Company’s Jonald Walker III, and his failed attempts to audit the town’s books. The meeting was delayed about 20 minutes from the scheduled Noon time, due to lack of a quorum. Finally, District C’s Charla Mason-Melton joined Alderman-at-large LaStevic Cottonham and District D’s Devin Flower, to allow the meeting to begin.

Walker explained that as an independent auditor, he could only offer an opinion on the town’s finances as presented to him, and could not act as the town’s accountant. He noted that the FY 2011-2012 time period he was examined was rife with inaccurate journal entries, and that many questions he had of the staff as to how a number was arrived at could not be answered.

Walker said that in order to have an accurate opinion, you have to have accurate numbers.

Said Walker, “If you’re not even willing to make your opening balances right, how do we get to the ending numbers to render an opinion.”

However, Walker did say that the personnel now employed by the town may have a better grasp of their duties than those formerly employed.

In other business, the board introduced the FY 2013-2014 proposed General Fund and Enterprise Fund (water, sewer) budgets. As we noted in our news story yesterday, a public hearing is set for 6/25/13, 5:30 PM.

The board also approved an amendment for the original 2012-2013 Enterprise Fund, but not without a bit of discussion.

As has been the case for nearly every Jonesboro meeting that we have covered for the past three years, none of the council had seen the budgetary documents prior to the meeting. Nor had the Enterprise Fund Amendment been reviewed at a public hearing, as is required by the Louisiana Local Government Budget Act (LLGBA).

But, as we learned last week, the town’s controversial mayor Leslie Thompson says he can pick which laws to obey.

This must be one of those unnecessary laws.

Mason-Melton noted that she had not seen the amendment, and that some of the department heads also had no input for the changes.

Asked Mason-Melton, “Why wasn’t this included in our packet that we had delivered, so we could look over it?”

Mayor Thompson replied that they had just completed the amendment earlier in the day.

“Mayor, if Shaky (Water Department Head “Shaky” Green) hasn’t had the opportunity to look at it, what is the need to do it now?” Mason-Melton also asked. “We only got it today,” she added.

Finally, after more discussion, Flowers made the motion, with Mason-Melton seconding. It passed unanimously.

During the discussion mayor Thompson said it may be necessary to raise water rates to cover possible budget shortfalls.

$1,200/Yr Council Raise in Jonesboro Budget Next Year

05/22/2013

A pay raise of $1,200/year for each of the five Town of Jonesboro Board of Aldermen is included in the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 General Fund Budget introduced earlier this afternoon at a special called meeting of the board.

Last year’s FY 2012-2013 budget allocated $30 thousand total for council salaries, while the new budget calls for $36 thousand. That amounts to a total $1,200 yearly raise for each alderman, or from $500/month to $600/month.

A separate ordinance must be introduced and passed by the board to enact the raise.

Also included in the budget for next year is $180 thousand for the Jonesboro Police Department, which will only fund perhaps two personnel in addition to Chief Wesley Horton. Two years ago, the department’s yearly budget was near $800 thousand.

A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for Tuesday, June 25, 5:30 PM, W. Richard Zuber City Hall, 128 Allen Avenue.

We will have a complete report tomorrow on today’s meeting.

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Special Meeting Tomorrow – Jonesboro Town Council

05/21/2013

A special called meeting of the Town of Jonesboro’s Board of Alderman will be held at Noon tomorrow (5/22), W. Richard Zuber City Hall, 128 Allen Avenue.

Here is the agenda.

Short Meeting for the Ouachita Parish Police Jury

05/21/2013

It was possibly the shortest regular meeting of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) that we’ve covered over the past four years – thirty-three minutes. Notable also was this was the first meeting we can recall that no visitors attended, save the media.

An ordinance creating a road lighting district was enacted, along with routine approval for several invoices and payments.

Drainage issues have had their share of attention lately, and they were again mentioned last night.

Police Jury President Shane Smiley (District E) said that a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to fund a drainage project for the Town & Country area had been denied. Smiley said that FEMA originally said they would fund the project, and a resolution was passed asking them to reconsider their denial.

Also on the subject of drainage, jury attorney Jay Mitchell reported on the Ouachita RV Park flooding issue that had been discussed at the 4/15/13 meeting of the jury.

Mitchell noted that the City of Monroe was also having drainage issues north of the interstate, and that some work in the area by the railroad may be related.

Said Mitchell, “We’re working on trying to get to the possible reason why all of a sudden these areas south of the interstate that claim to have never had flood problems before, all of a sudden are.”

Ouachita Parish Fire Chief Pat Hemphill reported that he and his staff were completing work on a policy manual for the department, and would be submitting it to the jury for review.

Willie Joseph Convicted of Battery in Jonesboro – Witnesses May Have Perjured Themselves

05/21/2013

A Quitman, LA man was found guilty of simple battery in a bench trial that was held two weeks ago in Second Judicial (Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson Parishes) District Court in Jonesboro. Division B Judge Jimmy Teat presided.

Willie Joseph was arrested last August after an incident that occurred at a Board of Aldermen meeting at W. Richard Zuber City Hall in Jonesboro.

Wrote Teat in his Reasons for Judgement:

It is this Court’s opinion that when you take into consideration the totality of the testimony, defense exhibit D-1, and State exhibit S-1, it is clear that the State of Louisiana has carried its burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore the Defendant is found guilty of simple battery.

Also notable is the implication that two of the defense witnesses may have testified falsely for the defense.

Again, if you concentrate on the video (DVD) that the defendant introduced into evidence it clearly shows that Mrs. (Janice) Simmons could not have seen or heard anything that happened because she was not where she’s testified she was because she was still either in her chair in the meeting room or still in the meeting room, this Court has already referred to, at least six minutes after the incident occurred.

As to the testimony of Franciscus Jackson he also testified under oath that he immediately after the meeting walked out into the hallway by the water fountain and testified that at that time he saw Willie Joseph in the hallway next to the water fountain right in his proximity. (See lines four through ten). He also continued in his testimony to indicate that if anything would have happened next to the water fountain as alleged he would’ve saw it and as a matter of fact testified under oath that he never saw it. If you again clearly look at the video (DVD) that was introduced by the defendant at approximately 1:46:31 of the video (DVD) it shows Franciscus Jackson appear from the bottom right corner of the video (DVD) which clearly indicates he had not ever left the meeting room after the meeting was over which is totally contrary to his testimony under oath.

If you review the testimony of Janice Simmons and Franciscus Jackson it is clear that nothing they testified to is corroborated by either the video (DVD) and/or the CD.

The video was introduced into evidence by the defense, while the audio was introduced by the prosecution.

See here the document.

Prosecuting the case was Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Durrett. Monroe attorney Louis Scott defended.

Local Weather Advisory – Lincoln Parish

05/21/2013

LINCOLN PARISH OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Kip Franklin
(318) 513-6200
kfranklin@lincolnparish.org

Lincoln Parish, Severe Weather Awareness

The potential for severe weather for Tuesday to early Wednesday morning may expand eastward to include the northwest and north central portions of Louisiana. In addition to hail, damaging winds and tornados the threat of flash flooding will be a concern with any high precipitation supercells or multi-cell storms forming in lines. Any tornadoes that may develop may be rain wrapped making them hard to spot during daylight hours.

The National Weather Service, Shreveport has a special webinar scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10 am. Local officials will tune in to the webinar to stay advised of the severe weather threats and parish residents are urged to tune in to local media venues for updates in weather conditions. For Ruston area residents, please heed the warning to seek shelter indoors should the City of Ruston Outdoor Warning System be activated. Lincoln Parish has also implemented the Alert FM system for severe weather and local emergency notification. Residents may purchase an Alert FM receiver at Hi-Tech Computers at 715 West California Ave. or download the Alert FM App. It is available for both Apple iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod) and Google Android devices. The App can be downloaded from the Apple iTunes (http://imap.tv/2k) or Google Play (http://imap.tv/fmgp) stores. In-App purchases are optional for both versions.

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Monday

05/19/2013

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury (OPPJ) will meet Monday, May 20, 5:30 PM, Ouachita Parish Court House, second floor.

See here the agenda.

Homer, LA Update – 5/17/13

05/17/2013

(Homer, LA) Guardian-Journal – 5/2/13

Police budget hearing May 16
Chief Mills confronts Homer mayor about budget, hiring issues

(Homer, LA) Guardian-Journal – 5/9/13

Councilwoman, Homer police chief hit standoff regarding records request
Questions arise regarding town’s healthcare coverage
Public records requests for water bill adjustments received