Archive for March, 2018

Sumlin Case Stumbles Along


Former State Representative William Sumlin’s three-year old charge of indecent behavior with juvenile(s) is no closer to resolution after yesterday’s hearing was reset to May 15.

There was a bit of discussion after Third Judicial District Judge Tommy Rogers suggested they make sure no trial date was pending before setting a new hearing date.

Sumlin’s attorney, LaValle Salomon, said he had no trial date listed in his notes, and said there were several motions yet to be disposed of.

Assistant District Attorney Steve Hearn, in consulting his records, noted that there was an October trial date. He then realized that the date was “last October.”

LPNO readers will recall the phenomenon, as yet unexplained, of the trial date that simply vanished from the court docket.

Sumlin Trial Date Vanishes?


7% Pay Raise for Louisiana Sheriffs Flying Through Legislature


A bill that would grant Louisiana Sheriffs a seven percent pay raise has overwhelmingly passed the Louisiana House of Representatives and is awaiting action in the Senate.

House Bill 218, by Monroe Representative Katrina Jackson would:

Allow elected sheriffs to receive a nontransferble 7% salary increase for participation in the La. Sheriffs’ Certification Program. Participation requirements and eligibility include the completion of training, certification, or education requirements or the attainment of law enforcement experience.

Among the requirements of certification is any one of the following:

A certificate of graduation from the FBI National Academy at Quantico, Virginia.

An associate or bachelor’s degree from a regional accredited institution of higher education as recognized by the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Executive Management Institute Board.

A masters degree or juris doctor from a regional, accredited institution of higher education as recognized by the Louisiana Sheriffs’ Executive Management Institute Board.

Twenty years of law enforcement, military, or corrections officer experience as recognized by the Louisiana Peace Officer Standards and Training Council or the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

The bill passed the House on a 79-9 vote last Thursday, March 22. Lincoln Parish Representative Rob Shadoin voted FOR the bill.

If passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor, it would become effective July, 2020.

Two Principals Recommend for Local Elementary Schools


The Interim Principals at two Lincoln Parish Elementary Schools – Ruston Elementary and Cypress Springs Elementary – have been recommended for two year contract appointments.

Amanda Brown at Ruston, and Mary Kilgore at Cypress Springs will be appointed effective 7/1/18, according to the personnel report issued for the upcoming 4/3/18 meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board.

See here the report.

At the board’s March meeting, the positions were advertised and interviews scheduled.

HB 403 Has NOT Been Pulled


Despite reports that the controversial House Bill 403 was to be tabled or pulled earlier this week, the bill remains active and is still pending a hearing in the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment as of early this morning.

See here the bill’s status on the Louisiana Legislature’s website.

All the agricultural interests who are following this bill need to pay attention and remember – politicians lie.

Minutes from 2/26/18 Sparta Meeting


We have received a copy of the 2/26/2018 meeting of the Sparta Groundwater Commission. Here are some of the pertinent details.

The February 26, 2018 meeting of the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District Commission was called to order by Mr. Zack Spivey at 10:00 A.M. at the Historic Fire Station in Ruston, LA in Lincoln Parish. Members present were Zack Spivey, Nick Cox, Charles Hughes, Jerry Taylor, Mike Carpenter, Lindsey Vincent, Rick Buckner, Terry Emory and Lynn Treadway.

Also welcomed guest Mr. Skip Russell from the Lincoln Parish Police Jury, Mayor Ronny Walker from Ruston, Cortney Hall from Lincoln Parish Police Jury, Mr. Richard Durrett and Hailey Broussard from Waggoner Engineering, and Mr. Rick Holt, a former Sparta Groundwater commissioner.

Executive Committee Report and Recommendation – Zack Spivey, Chairman led in a discussion of amending our enabling legislation, giving us the authority to access fees to support the conservation effects of the SGWC and it would amend the way our commissioners are appointed. It was requested by Jerry Taylor that we put a limit on our authority, limits on the amount of money we will generate, and that the commission will keep its cost at a minimum. Mr. Spivey agreed and stated that the SGWC is not interested in building an empire. Mayor Ronny Walker asked the question if there was anything in the new legislation that would hold Sparta user accountable for the water they used. Mr. Nick Cox stated that SGW commissioners do not desire to be the water police. Mrs. Lindsay Gouedy explained to everyone about how our proposed legislation has evolved with input from local industries and other groundwater commissions. Mr. Zack Spivey stated that we would be required to have a public hearing before we could establish a fee structure, and that we would establish such a fee structure after we receive public input and after we spend much time and some money doing research on setting up the fee structure. Mr. Nick Cox made a motion that we submit this draft legislation with the changes we needed to make to our legislator. Motion was 2nd by Rick Buckner. Motion passed Unanimously.

See here the complete document.

Maybe Sports Complex Money Should have Been Spent on Water Projects


Some water rates in NELA could go up to help fund multi-million dollar water pipeline project
KNOE-TV8 – Monroe, LA
By Gwendolyn Ducre | Posted: Mon 11:10 PM, Mar 19, 2018

This is the second time in two years the Union-Lincoln Regional Water Supply Initiative has put its water pipeline project on hold.

Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker, who sits on the board, said the project should have been done by now, but money keeps bringing this project back to the drawing board.

“We’re running out of the water. To grow our cities and to grow our parishes and to grow our economic base, we got to have more water,” Walker said.

The pipeline would feed water to Farmerville and Ruston from Lake D’Arbonne. That project is going to cost $100 million, which is money they just don’t have.

Now, the group has an idea where to get the money. They’re talking about getting it from the consumers.

“That’s the easiest way to do it. That way you can bond out the money for 20 years or whatever,” Walker said.

They’re talking about adding a few cents to each water meter that would start a fund.

The Sparta Aquifer commission must approve the water fee.

The urgency of this project is connected to the Sparta Aquifer that pumps out 56 million gallons of water each day to 16 parishes.

“The question I usually ask now is how much water do you need? Because I don’t think we can take it away from our residential customers by taking out the Sparta,” Walker said.

Ruston Sports Complex Sees Massive Cost Increase Over Estimate
Lincoln Parish News Online – 9/22/2107

The just-contracted Ruston Sports Complex that is to be built over the next two years off South Farmerville Street will cost more than double the original estimate that was sold to the voters.

Earlier this month, a $35.2 million contract was approved by the city’s Board of Aldermen to construct the facility.

When the “Moving Ruston Forward” plan was approved by the council in February, 2016, the estimated cost of the facility was said to be $15 million. The plan, along with a 3/4 cent sales tax increase to pay for it, was approved by Ruston voters in an April, 2016 election.

See here the “Moving Ruston Forward” presentation, page 25.

The construction contract does not include the cost of acquiring property for the facility. It is unclear where the money will come from for the additional cost, or what other infrastructure improvements might be left undone.

If there is a crisis and we are “running out of the water,” why are tens of millions of dollars being spent on a sports complex instead of water supply infrastructure?

CPPJ Mtg Canceled, HB403 Pulled?


Tonight’s special called meeting of the Claiborne Parish Police Jury (CPPJ) has been cancelled, a source at the jury told Lincoln Parish News Online this afternoon.

Rep. Rob Shadoin emailed the jurors to tell them that he was tabling controversial HB 403, and that made adoption of a proposed jury resolution opposing the bill moot, the source said.

However, as of posting time, the bill remains on the House Calendar.

Sparta Meeting Minutes Don’t Reflect What Happened


In reading through the meeting minutes of the Sparta Groundwater Commission for the past year, we discovered what appears to be a serious omission of fact.

The January 10, 2018 meeting in Winnfield was attended by several visitors, including representatives from US Senator Cassidy’s office and from US Senator Kennedy’s office.

What WASN’T in the minutes was any mention of an hour-long illegal executive session held to discuss wording in the proposed legislation that became House Bill 430

One of the other visitors was Ruston Daily Leader reporter Nancy Bergeron. She noted the executive session in her report and in a subsequent editorial.

Sparta Commission expected to pursue legislation – 1/11/2018

The panel spent an hour in a questionable closed session Wednesday before voting to look at changes commission Chairman Zack Spivey said “would put us back to the original legislation as drafted.”

Shine light on Sparta process – 1/12/2018

We applaud the Sparta Groundwater Commission for what appears to be its decision to move forward with drafting proposed legislation that would give it the management authority it should have had from the start.

We say “appears to be” because the commission spent an hour during its meeting this week discussing their legislature druthers in a session that was ill-advisedly closed to the public and the media. In fact, more than one attorney and several sources with long careers dealing with the public bodies have said the executive session was simply illegal.

Failing to show in the official minutes what material action the commission took in their meeting may put the commission in legal jeopardy.

LA RS 14:132 – Injuring public records

B. Second degree injuring public records is the intentional removal, mutilation, destruction, alteration, falsification, or concealment of any record, document, or other thing, defined as a public record pursuant to R.S. 44:1 et seq. and required to be preserved in any public office or by any person or public officer pursuant to R.S. 44:36.

LA RS 44:1 is the Louisiana Public Records Law

LA RS 14:133 – Filing or maintaining false public records

A. Filing false public records is the filing or depositing for record in any public office or with any public official, or the maintaining as required by law, regulation, or rule, with knowledge of its falsity, of any of the following:
(3) Any document containing a false statement or false representation of a material fact.

Who Instigated HB 430?


One of the questions that needs answering is who at the Sparta Groundwater Commission persuaded Rep. Rob Shadoin to file HB 430, and how the bill’s language was decided. Unfortunately, we’ve not attended meetings of the commission, but we have reviewed the meeting minutes from the last year.

Here’s what we found:

Thursday, January 19, 2017, Claiborne Parish Police Jury Bldg, Homer, LA – 2:00 PM

Mr. Spivey also disused the need to our commission to have continuity and encouraged the commissioners to contact our legislators about giving the Sparta Ground Water Commission more authority so it could be more effective.

Zack Spivey is the City of Ruston’s representative

Wednesday, July 12, 2017, Bienville Parish Courthouse, Arcadia, LA – 2:00 PM

Meeting guest and Louisiana Representatives Rob Shadoin and Gene Reynolds explained HB 689 and how it came to be passed through the legislation and signed by the Governor. They expressed their intentions to help Sparta Groundwater Commission with this and any future legislation. Sam Little encouraged the representatives to “Kill the Bill!” Jack Clampit explained our need for our commission to have more authority.

Jack Clampit is the Ouachita Parish representative, and is a member of the Ouachita Parish Police Jury.

Monday, December 18, 2017, Reese Hall Conference Room, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA – 10:00 AM

Mr. Zack Spivey discussed changes to our current Legislation. 1st He recommended that we make the 6 rotating commission seats permanent for 3 years. 2nd that our commissioners can stay on the commission until they are either reappointed or replaced. Mr. Jack Clampit stated he felt we need the ability to regulate who pulls out of the Sparta and we need the ability to generate revenue. All committee members were given a copy of our commission’s original legislation, Act. No 1228, to review. A Motion was made that a set of recommendations for future legislative consideration be prepared by Ms. Lindsay Gouedy and Mr. Zack Spivey. The motion was made by Mr. Jack Clampit and seconded by Mr. Charles Hughes.

Lindsay Gouedy is the Lincoln Parish representative.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018, Winn Parish Library, Winnfield, LA – 2:00 PM

(Ruston) Mayor Ronny Walker stated that his primary concern for industrial growth in North Louisiana is if we have enough water to sustain industries that may want to come in. Mr. Richard Durrett stated that we need to have more room to grow between the Sparta recharge rate and the rate of pullout.

Mr. Jack Clampit stated that at some time or another we are going to have to figure out how to regulate the usage of the Sparta, because we won’t be able to sustain industries if we don’t.

Friday, February 16, 2018, Reese Hall Conference Room, Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA – 10:00 AM

The Executive Committee along with Mr. Rob Shadoin and Mr. Ben McGee went over the proposed legislation draft page by page. We discussed many different concerns, questions, made omissions, and additions. A motion was made by Mr. Nick Cox that we redraft this proposed legislation according to the recommendations that the executive committee made today, that we meet again on Monday, February 28 with the full Sparta Ground Water commission and present the revised and recommended legislation draft. Motion passed unanimously.

Ben McGee is with the Water Resources Division of the US Geological Survey. Nick Cox is the Webster Parish representative.

A meeting was held on Monday, February 26, 2018, 10:00 AM, Historic Fire Station, Ruston, LA, but we have not received that meeting’s minutes. We have filed a public records request for production of those minutes.

We will be attending future meetings of the Sparta Groundwater Commission. We will record the meetings, as is our practice at all public meetings we attend.

Claiborne Jury Special Meeting Tomorrow to Oppose HB 430


The Claiborne Parish Police Jury has called a special meeting for tomorrow (Tuesday, March 20), 6:00 PM, CPPJ Administration Building, 507 West Main Street, Homer, LA.

The single agenda item:

Resolution 2018-007 – A Resolution Requesting the Citizens of the 16 Parish Region Which Comprise the Sparta Groundwater Conservation District to Urge Their Representatives to Defeat House Bill 430 as it is Currently Written

See here the document.