Archive for December, 2015

Volunteer Ranks Increase @ Lincoln Fire District


There has been a decided increase in the volunteer ranks at the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 since last year, Fire Chief Kevin Reynolds told last night’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

Said Reynolds, “As far as our volunteer participation, our numbers on fire scene was up about 50%. The numbers on training, the number of people that get one training a month basically, was up 60%. Our number of active members, and our total numbers was up 60%.”

Reynolds has been Chief since last April.

In other business the board approved the 2016 budget after a public hearing. Estimated total revenues are about $1.31 million, with estimated expenditures about $1.29 million.

That compares to the 2015 amended budget that had revenues of $1.88 million and expenditures of about $1.2 million.

At the end of the year, there will be an estimated fund balance of about $1.42 million. That money will be banked, Chairman Richard Aillet said, for future equipment replacement.

Said Aillet, “We’re going to move in some kind of interest bearing account.” He added that it would be an “equipment replacement account. We know better than to adjust our (current) spending to meet our revenues.”

See here the budget documents:

2015 Budget, amended
2016 Budget, proposed

Lincoln Parish Grand Jury Indicts Sumlin


A Lincoln Parish Grand Jury has indicted William Sumlin on charges of Indecent Behavior With a Juvenile, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) has learned. On December 7th, the panel charged that on or about 9/18/15 he:

committed the offense of INDECENT BEHAVIOR WITH A JUVENILE as defined by R.S.14:81 in that he: did commit any of the following acts with the intention of arousing or gratifying the sexual desires of either person:

(1) Any lewd or lascivious act upon the person or in the presence of D.F., a child under the age of seventeen, where there is an age difference of greater than two years between the two persons or
(2) The transmission, delivery or utterance of any textual, visual, written, or oral communication depicting lewd or lascivious conduct, text, words, or images to any person reasonably believed to be under the age of seventeen and reasonably believed to be at least two years younger than the offender.

See here the document.

Sumlin had been arrested on 10/6/15 by Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) deputies.

A long-time fixture in local area politics, Sumlin was District 12 Representative to the Louisiana House from 1983 to 1988. He has frequently campaigned on behalf of, or assisted local candidates for office, including some who are currently serving.

He was in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) court this afternoon, along with his attorney LaValle Salomon of Monroe for a status conference. Assistant District Attorney Lewis Jones moved to dismiss a preliminary examination hearing, as the indictment by a grand jury negates that need.

The next court date for Sumlin is a 2/16/16 scheduling conference, set for 1:30 PM. Presiding this afternoon was Division B Judge Tommy Rogers.

Sumlin had previously pleaded not guilty on 11/10/15.

Mays, Bonton February Trial Date on Schedule


A February 22, 2016 trial date for accused murderer Cameron Mays and his alleged accomplice Brandon Bonton is still on schedule, Assistant Attorney General Mike Ruddick said in Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court this morning in Ruston.

Ruddick said he would be trying Mays first on charges of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated burglary that allegedly occurred near the Cypress Springs neighborhood where retired Grambling State University Professor Dr. Sue Hashway was found slain in June of 2012. The alleged victim in the rape and kidnapping case was a Louisiana Tech student.

Representing Mays is Public Defender James Buckley.

A 1/19/16 status hearing is set for Mays.

Bonton was also in court this morning, where he enrolled as his attorney of record Robert Noel, of Monroe. He is charged with accessory to 2nd degree murder, accessory to burglary, possession of stolen things, and theft of a firearm.

Presiding this morning was Division B Judge Tommy Rogers.

Fire District Meeting Tonight


The Board of Commissioners of Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 of Lincoln Parish will meet 6:00 PM tonight (Tuesday, 12/15) at the Vienna Station, 4786 Highway 167.

Here is the agenda.

Jail Payroll Balloons in Three Years


The payroll budget at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center (DC) has skyrocketed in the 2 1/2 years since the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) has taken over operation of the center, an analysis of budget documents has revealed.

The 2015 amended and 2016 proposed budgets for the DC show a total personnel cost of just over $2 million. That figure includes wages of about $1.3 million, retirement contributions of over $200 thousand, and health insurance costs of over $400 thousand. The balance of the expenditures are for taxes, dental, and medical.

See here the documents:

2015 Amended Budget
2016 Proposed Budget

The personnel costs amount to almost as much as the total budget ($2.1 million) for the facility in 2012, the last full year that LaSalle Corrections operated the facility. The LPSO took over operation in July of 2013.

See here the documents (pg 15).

Sheriff Stone says Detention Center May Repay LPPJ


Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone said at this morning’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission (DCC) that the money paid to the commission from the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) might be repaid if present budget trends continue.

Said Stone, “One day, maybe three or four years from now we look at it and we got a surplus of three, four, five million dollars, then I would maybe entertain that we could do something, especially if the jury needs it.”

Stone was responding from a question by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) asking that since the DCC was now running a surplus, would the commission ever repay the money provided to it from the jury over the past several years.

Over a million dollars was taken from the jury’s courthouse capital fund to make up shortfalls in the DCC’s budget.

DCC Chairman Joe Henderson (LPPJ District 9) seemed to agree with Stone.

Said Henderson, “I think somewhere down the road that subject will come up.”

Stone also said that the DCC would likely soon forego the annual $100 thousand intergovernmental grant from the jury and the City of Ruston.

“I think we may be able to do that next year,” Stone said.

The DCC approved the 2016 proposed budget of about $4 million, double the budget of four years ago when LaSalle Corrections operated the facility.

Earlier the DCC heard from Leta Emerson who was concerned that DCC inmates were often unable to have visitors in person from friends and relatives.

Warden Jim Tuten said that the detention center hadn’t the facilities to have contact visitation, but that in the future that problem would be addressed.

LPPJ Solid Waste Equipment Upgrade


Several pieces of equipment for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s Solid Waste Department are scheduled to be bought in the near future to replace rented and second-hand equipment pressed into service when the department had to begin hauling refuse to the landfill earlier this year.

A cab & chassis truck, four refuse trailers, a refuse packer, and a litter van – totaling about $400 thousand – will soon be purchased to haul refuse from the collection center off Arkansas Plant road to a landfill in Union Parish. That task had formerly been performed by a private contractor (Jackie White, Inc) until May, 2015.

Solid Waste Committee Chair Walter Pullen said that all the costs were budgeted.

Said Pullen, “All these costs were already figured into the budget, and the budget’s still less than we had appropriated for last year. This is going to significantly save us in the long run.”

The Lincoln Parish Landfill was closed in 1993, as it was cheaper to haul to a remote location than to operate the facility.

During the full Jury meeting, several appointments were made to area boards and commissions:

Lincoln Health Foundation: Dr. Gary Luffey
Ruston/Lincoln Convention & Visitor’s Bureau: Jeff Parker, Richard Lewis, Tiffany Baldwin
Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1: Mike Fulton, Ray Robinson
Waterworks District No. 3: G. W. Kimble
Lincoln Parish Communications District: Tremell Turner

North Louisiana Exhibition Center Commissioner Angela Manning said in her report to the jurors that her facility needed an upgrade of about 100 more permanent stall so that additional horse shows could be booked. She noted that other parishes in the region would soon be competing against the Lincoln facility.

Recently, Jackson Parish received a $1.6 million state capital outlay to build a riding arena and pavilion.

OPPJ Says it Needs More Taxes, Too


Police Jury proposes sales tax hike for road repairs

By Zach Parker

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury took the first step Monday toward calling an election asking voters in unincorporated Ouachita Parish to approve a pair of sales tax hikes to generate revenues for road repairs.

The Police Jury voted to create an economic development district in western Ouachita Parish and another in eastern Ouachita Parish. At a later date, the Police Jury plans to call for an election raising the sales tax rate in western Ouachita by .39 percent and by 1.49 percent in eastern Ouachita. The two sales tax increases would bring the total sales tax rate to 9.99 percent, which is in line with the rate in Monroe and West Monroe.

The 12/7/15 Ruston City Council Meeting


Last night’s meeting of the Ruston Board of Aldermen saw a slew of resolutions adopted, including one pertaining to the Monster Moto project.

That resolution is in the form of a contract with the State of Louisiana for a community development block grant that will fund development of streets and utilities relative to the project.  If approved, the grant will reimburse the city $870 thousand.

See here the documents.

Also approved was a resolution to purchase another 13 acres in the industrial park, near the intersection of McDonal Avenue and Beacon Light Road. That parcel is priced at $70 thousand, according to Kristi Lumpkin, the city’s economic development officer.

Finally, the council reviewed and approved a list of substandard structures that must be rehabilitated or demolished.

See here the memo.

Former DeSoto DA’s Law License Suspended


Former DeSoto DA Richard Johnson suspended from practicing law

By Vickie Welborn

The Louisiana Supreme Court has suspended former DeSoto Parish District Attorney Richard Z. Johnson Jr. from practicing law.

The order issued Friday is on an interim basis but effective immediately. The court also ordered disciplinary proceedings, which is expected to result in disbarment.

Johnson, 58, of Mansfield, in August admitted to lying on his 2011 tax return. He pleaded guilty in federal court to filing a false federal income tax return. U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr. will sentence him on Feb. 17.

Johnson was a one-term D.A. He was defeated in a re-election bid last year.