Archive for June, 2018

Preliminary Approval for LPPJ to Borrow on Jail Addition

06/28/2018

The U. S. Department of Agriculture has given preliminary approval for the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) to apply for a loan to build a 10 thousand sq ft, $3 million addition to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center, it was told at yesterday’s meeting of the Detention Center Commission.

See here the document.

The next step is for a public hearing on the proposal, which is tentatively scheduled for the 7/10/18 meeting of the jury.

While the jury is legally obligated to pay off any loan, Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone has repeatedly said that the jury will be reimbursed from savings that the new building will accumulate. Presently, many prisoners are housed in adjacent parish jails, and Lincoln Parish must pay for their upkeep.

The jail houses about 100 state prisoners, and is paid about $24 each per day for upkeep. That money is a significant part of the revenue for jail operation.

It is unclear what kind of formal written agreement there will be between the jury and the sheriff for repayment of any loan, or even if there will be such an agreement other than verbal.

One other notable piece of news from Stone is that Major Chad Alexander has been assigned to the jail to assist Warden Jim Tuten.

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LPPJ Scores Clean Audit

06/27/2018

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) earned an unqualified audit opinion for the the year ending 12/31/17, CPA William Hulsey told a special called meeting of the agency last night.

An unqualified opinion means that the financial statements present fairly the agency’s financial position according to generally accepted accounting principles.

Said Hulsey, “We had an unqualified opinion, which is the best opinion that you can get.” He added, “Expenses were down about $600 thousand. The general and administrative line item was down about $500 thousand.”

Hulsey noted that indicated good controls over administrative costs.

On an issue that has been of interest to us over the years, we asked Hulsey whether the long standing practice of appropriating monies from the Courthouse Capital Fund and spending it on other parish capital projects should trigger a finding.

According to prior years’ audits:

The Courthouse Capital Projects Fund (CCPF) is used to account for renovations of the Courthouse. Financing is provided primarily by operating transfers from the General Fund.

Earlier this year, some $800 thousand was transferred from that fund to pay for an addition to the Exhibition Center.

Several years ago, around a million dollars was transferred from the fund to pay for extensive renovations to the Lincoln Parish Detention Center.

Hulsey said he didn’t think the practice warranted a finding, but that he would contact the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office to get their take on the issue.

More LACE Hijinks

06/21/2018

DeSoto sheriff blocks release of personnel files to auditors; says not related to LACE

Gary Hines & Vickie Welborn – KTBS TV3, Shreveport

The state legislative auditor, who is investigating suspected abuse of a traffic-enforcement program in DeSoto Parish, is meeting resistance from the local sheriff, who has gone to court to block a subpoena in which the auditor seeks personnel records as part of a possible expanding probe of the sheriff’s department.

The legislative auditor — who is investigating whether a group of DeSoto deputies got paid for overtime hours they didn’t work — overstepped his authority by asking for unredacted personnel records, Sheriff Jayson Richardson said in a petition filed in DeSoto District Court on Tuesday.

The subpoena, issued last week, seeks copies of the personnel files of Richardson and 12 deputies – five of whom are retired and several others who are administrative employees. Only four now-former deputies have been publicly implicated in the traffic-enforcement probe.

The investigation involves a program called LACE — Local Agency Compensation Enforcement — which has been under fire on a statewide basis as separate investigations focus on state troopers in South Louisiana suspected of padding their paychecks. One trooper made more than $200,000.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday

06/11/2018

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) will meet tomorrow (Tuesday, June 12), Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Personnel/Benefits Committee – 6:00 PM
Agenda

Two items are notable here – a vacancy for the Parish Treasurer who has given notice. Megan Wiens was appointed to the position last August.

Also, pursuant to a law enacted during this year’s Regular Legislative Session, personnel from the local Public Defender’s Office may enroll in the group health insurance plan of the local governing authority.

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM
Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
Agenda

Dubach’s Pruden State Principal of the Year Finalist

06/07/2018

Dubach Principal Pam Pruden (L), Lincoln Supt Mike Milstead

Dubach’s Pam Pruden has been named a finalist for the Louisiana Principal of the Year Award, and was recognized at Tuesday night’s Lincoln Parish School Board (LPSB)Meeting.

ACHIEVE Coordinator Cathi Cox-Boniol introduced Pruden, and said she was “…among 9 educational leaders who have been named a Finalist for this year’s Principal of the Year honors and one of only 3 finalists named from North Louisiana.”

Cox-Boniol noted that School Performance Score for Dubach increased 20 points from a 66.4 SPS in spring 2015 to an SPS of 86.4 in spring 2017. The Value-Added Model (VAM) Dubach teacher scores increased 56 percent from spring 2016 to spring 2017, she added.

The winner, along with Teacher of the Year, will be announced at a July event in Baton Rouge.

The board gave approval for revisions in the district’s capital outlay plan, and also authorized advertising for bids for the 2018-2019 school year.

Here’s the revised plan.

Approval was also granted to accept the low bid of $2.73 million by Triad Builders of Ruston for construction of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Building to be located adjacent to Ruston Junior High. Construction is scheduled to begin soon, with occupancy expected for the 2019-2020 school year.

S. Farmerville Subdivision Permit Denied

06/05/2018

Approval for a South Farmerville Street residential development was denied at last night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council in a 3-2 vote. It was a departure from what is normally a tightly scripted meeting format that rarely lasts more than 30 minutes.

The proposal was to subdivide into 10 lots a four-acre parcel located north of Martin Luther King between South Farmerville and Kirkland Street. No construction was included in the proposal, but the individual lots could be sold or developed in the future.

Making the motion was Bruce Siegmund, with Jim Pearce seconding. The three votes against the resolution were Jedd Lewis, Carolyn Cage, and Angela Mayfield.

Several area residents spoke against the resolution, with most of their concerns centered on additional traffic on what they said were streets that were already too narrow.

Lincoln Parish Police Juror Sharyon Mayfield: “The roads are very narrow. I have a problem how we’re going to get emergency vehicles through there.”

Mildred Hill: “That street is too narrow for two cars to pass conveniently.”

Mary Moore: “When are we going to bring our street’s width up to the width of all other residential streets? We don’t have sidewalks, and our children do ride bicycles and cars are coming by.”

It was noted that no one came to the Planning and Zoning meeting to speak for or against the proposed subdivision.

Ward Five’s Bruce Siegmund said that he supported the action, as Ruston was short of affordable housing.

In other business, the council approved an architect and engineer for a fire station to replace the existing station on West California near the Louisiana Tech campus.

Also, an agenda item for engineering services related to sidewalk improvements on East Mississippi Avenue was postponed indefinitely by Mayor Ronny Walker.

Shadoin a Snitch for the Governor?

06/05/2018

From The Hayride:

By Scott McKay

We’ve been told repeatedly by Shadoin’s Republican colleagues that House GOP delegation meetings are all but hopeless when he’s around. “We have to meet in small groups because when he’s in the delegation meetings he runs and tells the governor everything that’s said,” one complained. “We’ve gone back and forth over whether to kick him out.”

What’s shameful is Rob Shadoin’s misrepresentation of his constituents back in Ruston. District 12, which he supposedly represents, is one of the most conservative in the state. In the last four major elections in Louisiana, District 12 went 76 percent for Bill Cassidy, 64 percent for David Vitter, 75 percent for Donald Trump and 77 percent for John Kennedy. And yet Shadoin, who was on hand at Edwards’ inauguration, has put together one of the worst voting records of anyone with an “R” next to his name in the Louisiana legislature from the perspective of those conservative voters. His LABI scorecard marks indicate a pitiful 33 percent score in 2016 and a 49 percent score last year; this year isn’t likely to be any better when the final score comes out.

Shadoin Makes AFP “Takers Dozen” List

06/04/2018

Rep. Shadoin Revealed as Newest Member of AFP’s Taker’s Dozen

BATON ROUGE, La. – Americans for Prosperity-Louisiana (AFP-LA) announced the newest member of the Taker’s Dozen: Rep. Robert Shadoin.

AFP-LA State Director John Kay released the following statement:

“Rep. Shadoin has been in lockstep with his other Taker’s Dozen members raising taxes and growing the government. He can’t hide from his voting record of supporting increased taxes on small businesses, the income of hard-working Louisianans, online businesses, and an increased sales tax. We urge Rep. Shadoin to consider his constituents and vote against any tax increases as this special session winds down – they are tired of shelling out more of their hard-earned dollars to finance legislators’ reckless spending habits.”

Ruston Taxpayers to Pay $6.4 Million on Shopping Center Construction

06/04/2018

A cooperative endeavor agreement signed last November obligates Ruston taxpayers for $6.4 million toward the site development of a retail development under construction at the northwest corner of I-20 and Cooktown Road.

Among the obligations are:

$1.75 million for paving, curbs and gutter
$1.4 million for earthwork
$.75 million for storm and sanitary sewers

The agreement was authorized last October, but at that time, no cost figures were mentioned.

In November, the council authorized an additional 1/2 cent sales tax within the tax district that encompasses the retail development. That tax is dedicated to fund infrastructure improvements related to the district.

Hutton, a Chattanooga-based company is the developer.

See here the complete document.

Ruston City Council Monday

06/03/2018

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will have the regular monthly meeting tomorrow (Monday, June 4), 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here’s the agenda.