Archive for April, 2018

Lincoln Teachers get $2 Thousand Bonus for Summer School


Lincoln Parish teachers will receive a $2 thousand bonus in addition to their salary if they work all thirty school days in the upcoming Enhanced School Calendar program that is set to kick off June 11 and run through July 27.

Additionally, the teachers will be given 2 additional days of sick leave (from 10 to 12), if they complete the program.

Adoption of the program’s spending plan is on the agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB). Total cost is estimated at about $748 thousand.

See here the agenda and related memos.

The meeting is set for 6:00 PM, Tuesday, May 1 at the Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.


Caddo Parish Commissioner Indicted


Caddo commissioner indicted on federal fraud charges

By Gary Hines – KTBS-TV3

Caddo Parish Commissioner Lynn Cawthorne was indicted Thursday on federal charges he diverted money from a federal summer feeding program program to himself.

Cawthorne, the president of a social-service agency that got federal money for the summer meal program, is accused of exaggerating the number of meals actually provided to low-income children. Federal prosecutors said more than $536,000 was involved.

Cawthorne, 51, was named in an eight-count indictment charging wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Also indicted was the social-service agency’s director, Belena Turner, 46, of Shreveport.

Cawthorne was president of United Citizens and Neighborhood, which received federal money to provide meals to low-income children when school is not in session.

Why Judges Say they Need More of your Tax Dollars


Louisiana Supreme Court chief justice calls for increased judiciary funding; Here’s how its budget serves communities


Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson pushed increased judiciary funding to state legislators Monday, just days after the House stalled the judiciary’s budget bill.

Johnson, giving the annual state of the judiciary address, before a joint meeting of the Legislature, called for support of the judiciary’s proposed $180 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

She said the budget helps cover discretionary programs that bolster communities and reduce incarceration and recidivism rates. While funds for judicial salaries and retirement benefits are mandated by law, funds for these programs are not and suffer from cuts, she said.

But then there is this annual recurring meeting…

LSBA 77th Annual Meeting and LJC/LSBA Joint Summer School

Welcome to the Louisiana State Bar Association’s 77th Annual Meeting and the LJC/LSBA Joint Summer School: “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.”

This year’s Jimmy Buffett-themed conference will be returning to the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in sunny Destin, Florida- allowing participants to enjoy six days of substantive programming, exciting social events and fascinating speakers in a relaxed setting.

New This Year: With a great new theme, comes a great new poolside party! Come enjoy a cheeseburger in paradise at the “Back to the Bay” Wednesday night reception. The child-friendly event will feature a delicious buffet dinner and a live Jimmy Buffett cover band, held at the beautiful Bayside Pool Deck.

Trial for Mays, Accomplices Delayed Until October


The trial of accused murderer Cameron Mays and his alleged accomplices – Brandon Bonton, Markeva Daye, and Robert Demps – was delayed until October 29, 2018, after a joint prosecution/defense motion for the delay was filed Friday morning in Third Judicial District (Lincoln, Union Parishes) Court in Ruston.

The trial had been set for this morning. No reason was stated in court for the motion.

Mays is charged with a June, 2012 crime spree that resulted in the murder of retired Grambling State University Professor Dr. Sue Hashway, and the aggravated rape and kidnapping of a Louisiana Tech University co-ed.

Mays was convicted in April, 2016 of kidnapping, aggravated rape, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Among Bonton’s charges are theft, accessory to burglary, accessory to murder 2nd and drug possession.

Daye and Demps are both charged with accessory to murder 2nd, accessory to burglary, drug possession, and possession of stolen things.

Mays was not in court, nor was his attorney, James Buckley. Appearing for the prosecution was Assistant Attorney General Madeleine Slaughter-Young.

Representing Bonton was Monroe attorney Bob Noel, who was not present. Daye and Demps were represented by Ruston attorney Forrest Moegele, who was present in court.

Presiding was Division B Judge Tommy Rogers.

Ouachita Juror wants “small fee” on Sparta users


Clampit touts ‘small fee’ on water users

By Zach Parker |

Ouachita Parish Police Jury Vice President Jack Clampit says water users in the 16 parishes that tap the Sparta Aquifer as a groundwater resource should pay a “small fee.”

The revenues from a water meter fee or pumping fee could fund any water conservation efforts undertaken by the Louisiana Sparta Ground Water Commission. Clampit is the commission’s treasurer.

“There should be a small fee to help preserve the life of the Sparta,” said Clampit, who represents the Police Jury on the Sparta commission. “The amount of that fee should be set by the Legislature, not by the Commission.”

Read the complete story here. Subscription required.

Local Attorneys Swarm Jury Meeting


There was an interesting turn of events at last Tuesday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury – several area attorneys showed up in an effort to convince jurors to hire them instead of out-of-town lawyers, should they decide to become a plaintiff in a class-action suit against drug companies.

It all started when one of the jurors heard a pitch at the Police Jury Association state convention from New Orleans plaintiff attorney John Young, who is suing drug companies for the alleged over-use of prescription painkillers. Young has apparently had some success convincing other police juries around the state to sign on as plaintiffs, hoping to cash in on any settlement.

The juror invited Young to make his pitch to the LPPJ, and he did so at last month’s meeting. There was a resolution on the agenda Tuesday that, had it been adopted, would have made the LPPJ a plaintiff.

Local attorneys got wind of the deal, and came Tuesday night to make their pitch.

Present were Durrett Law & Title’s Andy Durrett and Mike Smith.

From Monroe came veteran attorney Johnny Dollar, who brought in talent from Houston, Mark Correro.

By the time they all finished, it was obvious that the jury realized that a near-feeding frenzy was about to be unleashed, and they began to back-pedal. No action was taken on the resolution to hire Young, and it is questionable whether the issue will ever show up on the agenda again.

One area resident, Dick Christian, had this to say: “Somebody, somewhere is writing a scrip. The one that gets that drug in the patients hand is the doctor that writes that scrip. If there’s an inordinate amount of scrips being written in the parish, who’s writing them? Go after that person. This is something I’d like Lincoln Parish not to get involved in.”

He added, “Obesity probably links to a large percentage of the money the state has to spend (on Medicaid). Are you going to go after food manufacturers and the trucks that bring it in? If they can do it against one group, they can do it to another.”

In other business, the jury hired Meyer, Meyer, Lacroix & Hixson to do design for an addition at the exhibition center. Asked how much the contract would be for, Parish Administrator Courtney Hall said the usual fee is about 6% of a project’s cost. The budget for the covered warm-up area at the center is about $850 thousand.

Sparta Commission’s Spivey: “We’ve Changed Direction”


Saying the Sparta Ground Water Commission had received significant pushback from area local governments on the commission’s recent efforts to take control of the Sparta Aquifer, commission Chair Zack Spivey asked the other commissioners to garner input to guide future efforts.

Said Spivey, “I think I’ve kinda guided our organization in a direction that maybe got too far ahead of the bodies that nominate us. We didn’t bring them along with us. We asked for something, and there was pretty strong opposition to what I was wanting to do. So we’ve changed direction.”

The commissioners are recommended for appointment by local governing bodies, cities, and industry groups in a 16 parish area of North Louisiana.

The remarks came at yesterday’s meeting of the commission in Jonesboro.

Spivey asked the other commissioners to stay closely in touch with local governments and industry groups.

“We need to find out what those agencies, bodies, companies, that nominate our commissioners, where we would like to be going. If we try to get too far ahead of them, they may have some ideas that they don’t want us to go there,” Spivey said.

Spivey also noted the recent successful efforts to reduce demand on the aquifer, one being the use of wastewater from an Arcadia chicken processing plant for leaching salt from underground domes. These domes are then employed as natural gas storage areas that hold gas in reserve for high winter demand.

Also, the Town of Homer is using their treated sewage output to irrigate the municipal golf course.

Over the past several years, total demand on the aquifer has declined from a high of about 70 million gallons/day to about 55 million gallons/day.

Earlier, the group amended the minutes of the 1/10/18 meeting where an illegal secret session was held.

Spivey blamed the mistake on “bad advice from counsel.”

LPPJ Votes to Proceed on $64 Thousand Asst Admin Hire


Despite the best efforts of District Three Juror Bobby Bennett to convince his fellow committee members otherwise, the Personnel/Benefits Committee of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury voted begin the process of hiring an Assistant Parish Administrator, at a $63,793.67 yearly salary. Jody Backus’ (District Seven) motion was to begin advertising for applicants, interview the applicants, and make a hire within the next three months.

Voting for the motion were Backus, Hazel Hunter (District Two), and Annette Straughter (District Twelve).

Bennett voted against the motion.

Parish Administrator Courtney Hall told the jurors that he intended to retire at the end of 2019, and that the position was included in the jury administration organizational charts.

Bennett said the year and a half time period until Hall retires, with an assistant on the payroll, was too long.

“There’s not a man around this table that had a business that would pay someone for a year and a half to be an assistant, Bennett said.”

Jury President Randy Roberson (District Four) said that there needed to be “continuity” when Hall retires.

Notable was the disagreement between Roberson and Bennett, who normally vote together on issues.

Roberson: “I’ll say this about the money. That money would not hire a mechanic where I work.”

Bennett: “Well, you’re with a big oil company. That’s a lot of difference when people have a lot of money to throw around. They can hire people they don’t need.”

Hall’s salary with benefits is about $130 thousand/year.

We will have additional reporting later on what else took place at the meeting.

Sparta Commission Meets Wednesday in Jonesboro


The Sparta Groundwater Commission will meet tomorrow (Wednesday, April 11), 2:00 PM, Dr. Charles H. Garrett Community Center, 182 Industrial Drive, Jonesboro.

Here is the agenda.

LPPJ to Hire Engineer for Exhibition Center Addition


Meyer, Meyer, LaCroix & Hixon, an Alexandria-based engineering company with a branch office in Ruston, will be considered for a contract relative to the proposed Covered Warm-up Area addition at the North Louisiana Exhibition Center on Fairgrounds Road.

The proposed action item is on the agenda for tomorrow night’s (Tuesday, April 10) meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Several committees will meet prior to the full jury meeting.

Public Works Committee – 5:30 PM

Personnel – 6:00 PM

This committee meeting has an interesting proposal to consider – the hiring of an Assistant Parish Administrator. Here are the proposed qualifications. No salary range is specified.

Marketing & Public Relations – 6:30 PM