Archive for January, 2015

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Tuesday

01/18/2015

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

Here is the agenda.

Hunter, Hammond Re-elected LPPJ Prez, VP

01/14/2015

After two consecutive 6-6 tie votes for the election of a president for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ), a vote switch gave incumbent president Hazel Hunter a 7-5 win over Randy Roberson at last night’s meeting. Incumbent VP David Hammond won his re-election with an 8-4 vote over Nancy Wilson.

Voting for Hunter were:

Hazel Hunter (District Two)
David Hammons (District Five)
Walter Pullen (District Six)
Jody Backus (District Seven)
Joe Henderson (District Nine)
Sharyon Mayfield (District Eleven)
Heather Walker (District Twelve)

Voting for Roberson were:

Theresa Wyatt (District One)
Bobby Bennett (District Three)
Randy Roberson (District Four)
Skip Russell (District Eight)
Nancy Wilson (District Ten)

Pullen had originally voted for Roberson on the two tie votes before switching his vote to Hunter.

Hunter was nominated by Henderson, and Roberson by Bennett.

Voting for Hammond were:

Hazel Hunter (District Two)
Bobby Bennett (District Three)
David Hammons (District Five)
Walter Pullen (District Six)
Jody Backus (District Seven)
Joe Henderson (District Nine)
Sharyon Mayfield (District Eleven)
Heather Walker (District Twelve)

Voting for Wilson were:

Theresa Wyatt (District One)
Randy Roberson (District Four)
Skip Russell (District Eight)
Nancy Wilson (District Ten)

In other business, the jury made plans for those attending the Police Jury Association of Louisiana annual meeting convention scheduled for January 29-31 in New Orleans.

Hunter said that nine jurors, in addition to the administrator and treasurer, had signed up to attend.

Hashway Murder Case Likely to see More Delays

01/14/2015
Dr. Sue Hashaway

Dr. Sue Hashway

As a result of likely new hires in the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney’s Office, there will be more delays in the case of State v Cameron Mays. Mays is accused of second degree murder in the June, 2012 home invasion and robbery of retired Grambling State University (GSU) professor Dr. Sue Hashway, 63.

District Attorney John Belton last night told Lincoln Parish News Online that he is “negotiating with” two attorneys as new hires in his office.

Deanna McCallum, who is the wife of another judge in the 3rd JD, Jay McCallum, and Lewis Jones, who was recently a candidate for 3rd JD Judge, are under consideration as Assistant District Attorneys, Belton said.

McCallum is Mays defense attorney, having been appointed as a public defender last April. McCallum has done contract work in the past with the Public Defender Board.

Mays had originally retained Shreveport attorney Joseph Clark, who passed away earlier this year. Several hearings on the case had been postponed during Clark’s illness.

Jones has previously supervised the district’s Public Defender Board, so new supervision will have to appointed for that agency.

Finally, Division B Judge Tommy Rogers will need time to become familiar with the case, as he was just recently elected.

Hashway’s nearest relative reportedly lives in Florida, and keeps up with the case through Hashway’s neighbors who have dutifully attended the hearings.

A status hearing is set for next Tuesday, January 20, 1:30 PM, Court House Annex.

Teacher’s Retirement Fund Debt to be Studied

01/14/2015

BESE panel approves teacher retirement study

by Will Sentell
wsentell@theadvocate.com

Despite protests from teacher unions and others, a committee of Louisiana’s top school board Tuesday approved a contract of nearly $143,000 for LSU to study the state’s nearly $12 billion teachers’ retirement debt.

The yearlong study is supposed to be overseen by Jim Richardson, director of the Public Administration Institute at LSU and a member of the influential Revenue Estimating Conference, which oversees Louisiana’s budget outlook.

The review is supposed to aid a task force of education groups grappling with the issue, including why costs continue to rise.

“It would be irresponsible for us to not have a third party take a look at the situation,” said Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Roemer, of Baton Rouge, said similar retirement problems have driven some municipalities into bankruptcy.

But officials of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, Louisiana Association of Educators and Louisiana School Boards Association opposed the contract.

At issue is what is called the Unfunded Accrued Liability, which is the money needed to pay promised benefits to both current and retired members.

The nearly $12 billion UAL for teachers is the largest of the state’s four retirement systems.

LSU will also provide updates every six weeks to the task force of education organizations studying retirement costs.

The study is supposed to uncover reasons for rising retirement expenses, the ability of local schools boards to handle the costs and the long-term sustainability of the system.

Chris Womack Appointed RFD Chief

01/13/2015

What can we say but that our sources were wrong.

Ruston Fire Department Training Officer was tonight appointed Fire Chief at a special called meeting of the Board of Aldermen.

The board approved the appointment unanimously.

Womack thanked the mayor and council for their confidence in him, and promised that his door would always be open.

Said Womack, “I especially like to meet with the new councilmen at some point and discuss any concerns you’ve seen in the fire and EMS departments here in Ruston.”

What Happens When Other People’s Money Runs Out?

01/13/2015

Louisiana State Police in line for 30 percent pay raise

by mark ballard
mballard@theadvocate.com

Even as state agencies are cutting budgets, Louisiana State Police seeks a 30 percent pay raise for many of its troopers.

“I know it’s not the best time, but when is the right time?” State Police Superintendent Michael Edmonson asked. The hike would bring State Police in line with what other law enforcement officers are paid and was approved before the price of oil dropped by $40 a barrel, requiring a midyear correction in this year’s budget and massive cuts to be proposed for next year’s — including a cut of about $300 million for higher education.

“This isn’t a pay raise that will affect me or the upper echelon,” Edmonson said. It would apply to rank-and-file troopers under the rank of major.

About 1,646 employees will get raises starting Jan. 19, according to documents filed by the State Police asking for approval for the midyear budget change. But first, legislators would have to approve shifting about $14.6 million from a fund that collects the newly increased fines for drivers without up-to-date auto insurance into an account that can be used to pay salaries. The Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget is scheduled to vote Friday on moving the money.

Starting pay with benefits for troopers, if legislators agree to the money shift, will increase about 30 percent from $35,609 to $46,610.

Eric Brazzel Likely for Ruston Fire Chief

01/12/2015

Ruston Fire Department Public Education Officer Eric Brazzel will likely get the nod from Mayor Ronny Walker as Ruston’s next Fire Chief, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) has learned.

He will be the city’s fourteenth chief since Ruston was chartered in 1884, according to the department’s history.

The appointment is expected to garner unanimous approval at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tomorrow, 1/13

01/12/2015

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) will meet Tuesday, January 13, 7:00 PM, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Here is the agenda.

Election of officers will be among the first items taken up. Later in the meeting, several vacancies on area boards will be announced – Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control, Waterworks District No. 1, and Mt. Olive Waterworks District.

No committee meetings are scheduled.

Ruston Fire Chief Appointment Imminent

01/12/2015

A special called meeting of Ruston’s Board of Alermen is scheduled for Tuesday, January 13, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

The only item listed on the agenda is the appointment of a Fire Chief.

Agreement Reached on I-20 Service Road Right-of-Way

01/11/2015

Friday afternoon’s meeting of the Interstate 20 Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors saw approval of a long sought after agreement between the agency and landowners of property needed for construction of new segments of the north and south I-20 service roads.

See here the document.

When completed the service roads will extend from Hwy 165 By-Pass on the west, to Russell Sage Road on the east.

Board President Otis Chisley said the landowner and the board had been negotiating for nearly a decade for the property.

The agreement will have be ratified by the Monroe City Council, and is on the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting.