Archive for March, 2017

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday

03/13/2017

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) will meet Tuesday, March 14, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor. Committee meetings begin at 5:00 PM.

Public Works Committee – 5:00 PM
Agenda

Long Range Planning Committee – 5:30 PM
Agenda

Solid Waste & Recycling Committee – 6:30 PM
Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
Agenda

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Louisiana State Police Update

03/13/2017

Mike Edmonson’s job as head of Louisiana State Police in limbo amid mounting controversy

BY JIM MUSTIAN | jmustian@theadvocate.com

Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration on Monday sought to tamp down widespread speculation that a change in leadership is on the horizon at the Louisiana State Police, an agency that has been plunged into deepening turmoil in recent weeks.

But at the same time, officials aren’t exactly insisting that Col. Mike Edmonson, the longtime State Police superintendent, is secure at the agency’s helm, describing the uncertainty as a major distraction.

Edwards spokesman Richard Carbo confirmed the governor met with Edmonson on Monday but described the meeting as regularly scheduled. The tête-à-tête was said to be the latest of several private conversations the two have had in recent days in the wake of multiple controversies.

“Some people may be getting ahead of themselves,” Carbo said when asked whether Edwards intends to replace Edmonson. “He has not asked for his resignation.”

Ascension Parish President Indicted

03/10/2017

Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa, Gonzales businessman indicted in bribery scandal

BY DAVID J. MITCHELL | dmitchell@theadvocate.com

GONZALES — Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa and Gonzales businessman Olin Berthelot were indicted Friday in an attempted bribery scheme in which they are accused of trying to entice a candidate to drop out of an election last fall.

The 11-person grand jury of eight men and three women was unanimous in its findings The grand jury heard from four witnesses Friday, including Gonzales City Councilman Neal Bourque, and two others last month.

Matassa and Berthelot were each indicted on one count of violating Louisiana law by offering something of value to get a candidate to withdraw from an election.

Lewis Unglesby, Matassa’s attorney, said his client already turned himself in and posted bail Friday afternoon. Steven Moore, defense attorney for Berthelot, said his client would be doing the same.

If convicted, Matassa and Berthelot each face up to two years in state prison, with or without hard time, or a $2,000 fine.

Louisiana State Police Update

03/10/2017

Sources: Subpoenas served as probe of Louisiana State Troopers Association moves forward

BY JIM MUSTIAN AND KATIE MOORE | jmustian@theadvocate.com kmoore@wwltv.com

Federal authorities have ramped up an investigation into the Louisiana State Troopers Association, delivering a series of grand jury subpoenas this week to the nonprofit organization’s board of directors, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Col. Mike Edmonson, the State Police superintendent, said Thursday that the FBI has notified him “that they would be interviewing some of our guys” regarding the association, a group of current and retired troopers that has drawn mounting scrutiny — and a State Ethics Board fine — in light of its unlawful political contributions.

Maj. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman, noted that the troopers association is “independent of the department” and that the State Police, “as an agency, has not been served with any subpoenas regarding our operations.”

But sources familiar with the inquiry said more than a dozen people, including some high-ranking State Police officials, received subpoenas this week compelling them to testify before a federal grand jury.

“They’re stirred up right now,” one source said, referring to the State Police.

Gannet’s Alexandria Town Town/Opelousas Daily World to Curtail Print Editions

03/09/2017

A letter to our readers
By Judi Terzotis, The Town Talk President 5:04 p.m. CT March 8, 2017

The Town Talk is making a strategic change that further builds upon our digital-first approach by strengthening the direction of its exceptional seven-days-a-week newsroom and combining the best of its seven-day-a-week print product into three great editions — Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — beginning April 5, 2017.

While the frequency of the print edition is changing, our commitment to covering the news, sports, events, and stories that define our community remains a 24/7 priority for our staff and journalists. As you know, improving Central Louisiana’s quality of life is our passion, and 2016 was no exception.

A letter to our readers

Judi Terzotis, President, Daily World Published 5:04 p.m. CT March 8, 2017

The Daily World is making a strategic change that further builds upon our digital-first approach by strengthening the direction of its exceptional seven-day-a-week newsroom, and combining the best of its six-day-a-week print product into three great editions – Wednesday, Friday.

While the frequency of the print edition is changing, our commitment to covering the news, sports, events, and stories that define our community remains a 24/7 priority for our staff and journalists.and Sunday – beginning April 5, 2017.

 

 

 

 

Despite Money Woes, LPSB Gives Supt $10K/Yr Raise

03/08/2017

Mere minutes after Business Manager George Murphy cited severe revenue shortfalls facing the Lincoln Parish School District the School Board voted unanimously at last night’s meeting to award Superintendent Mike Milstead a four-year extension to his contract, along with a $10 thousand/year salary sweetener.

Milstead’s salary will go from $137 thousand/year to $147 thousand. Additionally, he receives, yearly, $7 thousand in medical benefits, $37.6 thousand in retirement contributions, and about $10 thousand in travel benefits.

See here the 2015-2016 audit, pg 161.

The Board’s Executive Committee – Lynda Henderson, District 9; Curtis Dowling, District 3; Danny Hancock, District 5 – recommended the raise.

Earlier, Murphy notified the board that for the 2017-2018 school year, the state’s Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) funding would be reduced some $5.4 million for the 2017-2018 school year.

Said Murphy, “For 17-18, reduction in MFP of $5.4 million. For the time being, we’re OK. Y’all need to know that it could be tough times for the next couple of years.”

Also, Murphy noted that local sales tax collections are down significantly less that last year. For the first eight months of the current fiscal year (7/1/16-6/30/17), sales tax collections are $3.8 million lower than the same period for the previous fiscal year.

See here the sales tax report.

Murphy opined that the July salary supplement (14th check) should be okay for now.

Not so the district’s medical plan. Murphy said that they may soon have to deal with the increase in retiree medical costs.

“It may not be where everybody’s happy about it out there with the retirees,” Murphy said. “We have a responsibility to make sure this thing stays solvent. We will come to you, and there’s probably some tough decisions to be made,” he added.

In other business, Milstead said he would be asking the board soon to approve redrawing Ruston School District elementary attendance zones for next school year.

Presently, some elementary students on the east side of the Ruston School District are bussed across town to attend either Glenview or Cypress Springs. The new proposal would make US Hwy 167 the approximate dividing line. Elementary students west of the highway would go to Glenview and Cypress Springs, while those on the east side would go to Ruston Elementary or Hillcrest.

Provision would be made so that students newly enrolled in a school for Kindergarten or first grade could stay there if desired, or could move a newly assigned school.

Finally, there was a bit of discussion about the recent Louisiana School Board Convention annual convention in New Orleans, and whether it was worth the expense to attend.

Asked how much the taxpayers were on the hook for, Murphy said “about $11 thousand.”

Tarbutton Interchange Construction Seen Soon

03/07/2017

The long-delayed interchange at Tarbutton Road and Interstate 20 should see construction starting by late summer, City of Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) at last night’s meeting of the city’s Board of Aldermen. Construction will last up to three years, Walker said.

The council approved a resolution to employ Beast Engineering of Benton to oversee inspection of the project.

Also approved was a resolution added to the agenda that authorized supplemental funding for the project.

During discussion of that resolution, Walker said that the bids had come in over budget, and that the city would make up some of the overage. Bids

Said Walker, “We had $14 million on state funds, $4 million on federal funds. The bid came in $7 million and change above that. The state called and said if we can split this, we can come up with some money. Fortunately, we had already put a little over $4 million in the budget from the TID funds that we just bonded out – the $34 million – so we had funds available.”

Another project that received the go-ahead was replacement of the Colvin Creek bridge on East Kentucky Avenue.

That project is set to begin with the next month or so, with the actual bridge construction during the summer. Kentucky Avenue will be closed for about 5 weeks, but should be open for traffic before schools start in August.

Cost of the project is about $1.35 million.

Lincoln Parish School Board Meets Tuesday

03/06/2017

The Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB) will meet Tuesday, March 7, 6:00 PM, Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here is the agenda.

Notable retirements announced include Assistant Superintendent Mary Null and Testing/Accountability Coordinator Donna Doss. Both are set to retire effective 6/30/17.

City to Purchase More Rec Property

03/05/2017

Ruston’s City Council will be asked to approve the purchase of more land for the planned sports complex on South Farmerville Street. United Methodist Children’s Home owns the 13.14 acre parcel (no. 36183167001) just south of the Lifecare Specialty Hospital.

According to the resolution, the purchase price will be for “an amount not exceeding the appraised value, assemblage value, use value or just compensation value.”

See here the resolution.

Also, a new ordinance will be introduced that will outlaw the use of “airguns, air rifles, and blowguns” within the city limits.

From the proposed ordinance:

The use, firing, shooting and explosion of airgun, air rifles and blowguns within the city are declared to be a nuisance, and it shall be unlawful for any person to use, fire, shoot or explode airguns, air rifles or blowguns within the city limits.

The council meeting is set for 5:30 PM, Monday, March 6 at Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Ouachita Parish Court Coverup Update

03/01/2017

Appeal court doubts law clerk’s immunity

By Zach Parker zach@ouachitacitizen.com

BATON ROUGE — Whether a “non-lawyer law clerk” at Fourth Judicial District Court in Monroe can be sued for destroying court documents was at the heart of questions discussed by a panel of judges at the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge last week.

The three-judge panel, including Chief Judge Vanessa Whipple as well as judges John Michael Guidry and Page McClendon, was assigned to preside over last week’s hearing in Monroe businessman Stanley Palowsky III’s lawsuit against Fourth Judicial District Court officials.

Palowsky’s July 2015 lawsuit accused law clerk Allyson Campbell of concealing or destroying court documents he filed with the court in a separate lawsuit against his former business partner, Brandon Cork. Palowsky sued Fourth Judicial District Court judges Fred Amman, Wilson Rambo, Carl Sharp, Stephens Winters and retired Judge Ben Jones, who now serves as the court’s administrator. According to Palowsky’s lawsuit, the five judges conspired to cover up Campbell’s activities.

“Is it a function of a law clerk to destroy pleadings?” said Guidry, of the First Circuit, while discussing the propriety of a “non-lawyer law clerk” enjoying the same judicial immunity as a judge. “Is that a function of judges to destroy public records?”

During last week’s hearing, the judges asked for parties to distinguish or whether a law clerk should enjoy the same protection from lawsuits as judges under the standard of judicial immunity.