Archive for January, 2015

Approval of City Officials on Ruston Council Agenda

01/30/2015

Approval of the appointment of several City of Ruston officials is on the agenda for Monday (2/2/15) night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council.

Listed are: Chief of Police, City Clerk/Treasurer, City Attorney, and Public Works Director.

See here the agenda.

The meeting is set for 6:00 PM, Ruston City Hall, 400 North Trenton.

Monroe City Council Delays Contract Ordinance

01/28/2015

The Monroe City Council voted unanimously at last night’s meeting to delay introduction of an ordinance that would limit to $5 thousand, the city’s governmental spending without a council-approved contract. Existing ordinances follow the State of Louisiana’s Public Bid Law, that exempts purchases of less than $30 thousand from a formal bid process. Additionally, engineering and architect services are exempt from the bid law.

See here the ordinance as proposed.

The vote followed adoption of an amendment to the ordinance so that it would “not apply to emergencies and natural disaster, and only apply to reoccurring expenses of $10 thousand or more during a calendar year.” The amendment was introduced by Betty Blakes (District 3). Voting no on the amendment was Gretchen Ezernack (District 2) and Kenny Wilson (District 4).

The ordinance had been vociferously opposed by Mayor Jamie Mayo, who alleged that it would create a hardship with everyday operation of the city. Many of Mayo’s underlings appeared with Mayo at a Monday presser to voice opposition to the proposed ordinance.

RockTenn and MeadWestvaco to Merge

01/26/2015

WV and RockTenn Agree to Combination Creating a $16 Billion Global Packaging Leader

Two Industry Leaders to Create a Powerful Global Provider of Consumer and Corrugated Packaging Solutions
Combined Company Positioned to Generate Substantial Cash Flow to Deliver Superior Growth and Strong Shareholder Returns
Total Annual Synergies of $300 Million to be Achieved over Three Years
Expect to Maximize the Value of MWV’s Pension Surplus Through Plan Consolidation
Previously Announced Tax-Free Spin-off of MWV Specialty Chemicals to be Completed Post-Closing

January 26, 2015 06:00 AM Eastern Standard Time

RICHMOND, Va. & NORCROSS, Ga.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Rock-Tenn Company (“RockTenn”) (NYSE:RKT) and MeadWestvaco Corporation (“MWV”) (NYSE:MWV) today announced that they have entered into a definitive combination agreement to create a leading global provider of consumer and corrugated packaging (“NewCo”) in a transaction with a combined equity value of $16 billion. The combined company, to be named prior to closing, will have combined net sales of $15.7 billion and adjusted EBITDA of $2.9 billion, including the impact of $300 million in estimated annual synergies to be achieved over three years.

“Management’s discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations – Forward-looking Statements”

Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, MWV stockholders will receive 0.78 shares of NewCo for each share of MWV held. RockTenn shareholders will be entitled to elect to receive either (a) 1.00 shares of NewCo or (b) cash in an amount equal to the volume weighted average price of RockTenn common stock during a five-day period ending three trading days prior to closing for each share of RockTenn held. The cash and stock elections by RockTenn shareholders will be subject to proration such that the resulting ownership of NewCo will be approximately 50.1% by MWV shareholders and 49.9% by RockTenn shareholders, and based on the shares outstanding today, approximately 7% of RockTenn shares will receive cash in lieu of stock. This targeted ownership ratio of NewCo will facilitate the continued favorable tax attributes of the previously announced spin-off of MWV’s specialty chemicals business, which the parties intend to complete after the closing of the business combination.

Steven C. Voorhees, chief executive officer of RockTenn, said, “This transaction brings together two highly complementary organizations to create a new, more powerful company with leadership positions in the global consumer and corrugated packaging markets. This is a terrific opportunity for shareholders, employees and customers of both companies, all of whom stand to benefit enormously from the combination. Importantly, our two companies are also an exceptional cultural fit, sharing a commitment to exceeding customer expectations and a focus on developing innovative packaging solutions. Planning for the integration of these two companies has already started and we expect to expeditiously realize the full value of cost synergies we have identified.”

John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of MWV, said, “We are creating the leading global provider of consumer and corrugated packaging solutions – and generating significant value for both companies’ shareholders. This transaction is a logical step that is borne of our strategic progress and financial success, and it offers MWV shareholders both immediate value and the opportunity to participate in significant upside as the new company generates substantial growth from its market-focused global strategy.”

Mr. Voorhees will serve as chief executive officer and president of the combined company, and Mr. Luke will become non-executive chairman of the board of directors. The board will be comprised of eight directors from RockTenn and six directors from MWV. Other key executives and their positions will be determined according to their strengths and will be named prior to closing. The combined company will maintain its principal executive offices in Richmond, Va., and will have operating offices in Norcross, Ga.

The transaction requires the approval of shareholders of both MWV and RockTenn and is subject to receipt of certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. Both parties target closing the transaction in the second calendar quarter of this year.

RockTenn operates a 2500 ton/day mill in Hodge, LA.

Lincoln School Board Employees Fired for Timecard Abuse

01/26/2015

In a just-released audit of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB), it was revealed that two employees of the board were terminated for punching each others time cards. The case was referred to the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney’s Office.

See here the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s (LLA) 1/26/15 press release:

Two employees of the Lincoln Parish School Board have been fired for “clocking in and out for each other,” according to an audit released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera.

The names of the two former employees were not given in a management letter included in the report.

The audit was performed by the Monroe accounting firm of Allen, Green and Williamson, LLP, for the school board’s fiscal year that ended June 30, 2014. Auditors said the finding resulted from the school board’s internal review of employee timecards.

Once aware of the practice, the report for the state auditor said, the school board fired the two and notified its contract auditor, the Legislative Auditor’s office and the district attorney’s office.

The report did not say how long the two engaged in the practice, how many hours they clocked in for one another or how much the practice may have cost the school board.

In their response to the findings, school board officials said they will “continue to monitor” internal controls to make sure they are adequate “and we will make changes when necessary.”

See here Allen, Green & Williamson’s complete audit:

COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT FOR THE YEAR ENDED JUNE 30, 2014

Monroe City Council Tuesday

01/25/2015

The Monroe City Council will meet Tuesday, January 27, 6:00 PM, Monroe City Hall, 400 Lea Joyner Expressway.

Here is the agenda and information packet.

Noted Unionville Coffee Group Profiled

01/24/2015
Unionville Saturday Morning Coffee Club

Unionville Saturday Morning Coffee Club

The Unionville Saturday Morning Coffee Club has collected quite an array of political campaign signs to show off at its meeting place in downtown Unionville, LA. Most are from last year’s local and federal elections. Besides providing decoration, the signs also help seal up cracks in the walls of the historic Unionville General Store.

Many area candidates visited with the group last fall while campaigning, and due acknowledgement is warranted, the group insists.

“After all,” said one member of the group, “if (former state representative) Willie Sumlin can get his picture on the front page of the Ruston Daily Leader with a barn full of outdated political signs, we deserve similar recognition.”

The venerable group of BS artisans, political savants, and social commentators meets every Saturday morning at the store.

While the group’s reputation is often said to be unfavorable, that characterization isn’t accurate, some members say.

Said founding member Richard Jones, “We provide a venue where diverse opinion is celebrated.”

Cynics have suggested that the group is merely a collection of misfits that are not welcome in more genteel area coffee clubs, like McDonald’s, Jefferson Corner, or Huddle House.

Supposedly more respectable Lincoln Parish opinion leaders say the loud talk and animated conversation by members of the group is because of highly opinionated personalities, and the participant’s penchant for political repartee.

A more plausible explanation is that most of the attendees suffer from age-related hearing loss.

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Full House @ LP Fire District Meeting Talks Structure Fees

01/21/2015

It was a big audience at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1’s Board of Commissioner’s meeting – so much so that extra chairs had to be put out.

Lincoln Parish Tax Assessor Sheila Bordelon was there, along with District Attorney John Belton, Assistant DA Jeff Robinson, and six Lincoln Parish Police Jurors – Hazel Hunter, Nancy Wilson, Theresa Wyatt, Randy Roberson, Bobby Bennett, and Sharyon Mayfield.

They were there for the discussion about agenda item 9:

Consider and take action, if necessary, regarding correspondence to Tax Assessor regarding structure fee assessment.

“Structure Fees,” the $72/year tax for fire protection that appears on Lincoln Parish property owner’s tax bills at the end of the year has always been a contentious issue. Rural property owners have been suspicious that the fire district wants to levy the tax on barns, outbuildings, shops, and other structures that are commonly found on rural property. Discussion about that very issue has come up on occasion in meetings that we’ve covered.

Last night, however, the discussion centered around one particular type of structure – a building with multiple tenants. While the proposition that created the district states that,

…each residential or commercial unit in a structure shall be considered a separate structure…

for some reason that no one can recall, apartments and commercial buildings with multiple tenants have historically only been assessed a single $72 tax. It is notable that the proposition hasn’t changed, other than dates, since it was originally voted upon in 1991. See them here:

1991
2000
2010

Said Bordelon, “The wording has always stated that, if you read it, but it had never been done like that.”

Board President Richard Aillet said, “Why it was started off being collected the way it was, I don’t know.”

Juror Randy Roberson suggested that when the proposition was first enacted, there may have not been many apartments in the rural part of the parish, and it wasn’t much of an issue at the time.

The board voted unanimously to send a letter to the assessor authorizing her to assess for the multiple units.

Acting Chief Donnie Watson said that there were about 40 structures in the parish that would be affected.

In other business, the board re-elected Aillet as President, and Ray Robinson as Vice-President. Committee assignments were also unchanged.

The board also held a 45-minute executive session, presumably to discuss the pending lawsuit against the district by former Chief Dennis Ford.

Hashway Murder Case Set For September Trial

01/20/2015

Cameron Kinte Mays

A September 28 trial date has been set for Cameron Kinte Mays, accused of the June, 2012 home invasion and murder of Cypress Springs resident Dr. Sue Hashway, 63, a retired Grambling State University (GSU) professor. The action came this afternoon in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court, Division B, with brand-new Judge Tommy Rogers presiding.

Prior to the trial, however, there will be a hearing on February 18 to appoint another attorney to represent Mays.

As we had reported last week, Deanna McCallum, who is the wife of another judge in the 3rd JD, Jay McCallum, won’t be serving as court-appointed attorney, as she is expected to begin working for the 3rd JD’s District Attorney’s Office.

McCallum briefly conferred with Mays prior to the start of today’s court session.

In connection with the case, Brandon Bonton, who is an alleged accomplice of Mays, today had his preliminary exam hearing reset until April 21.

Notable in the courtroom today were a couple of Ruston Police Department (RPD) officers, including Chief Steve Rogers.

The RPD investigated the case initially, and made the arrests in 2012.

Representing the State was First Assistant District Attorney Laurie James.

Several Local Governmental Entities on Legislative Auditor’s Non-Compliance List

01/20/2015

Several local governmental agencies have been placed on the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Non-Compliance List, according to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor (LLA).

Among those listed are:

Town of Dubach
Village of Simsboro
Monroe City Schools
Housing Authority of Monroe

The agencies had not provided their yearly audits by the 12/31/14 deadline. Inclusion on the list could jeopardize state or federal funding to the agencies.

Edited to add 1/21/15

Late morning yesterday the Louisiana Legislative Auditor removed the Town of Dubach from the non-compliance list.

Lincoln Parish Fire District Meeting Tonight

01/20/2015

The Board of Commissioners of Fire Protection District No. 1 of Lincoln Parish will meet at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at the Vienna Station, located at 4786 Highway 167.

Here is the agenda.

Several action items are to be considered, including election of officers for 2015.