Archive for October, 2020

Comments @ School Board Mtg


Prior to yesterday’s vote at the Lincoln Parish School Board, several comments were made by board members and the public.

District 10’s Otha Anders led the invocation, saying “we ask please that You point out the one to lead us to the continued growth, achievements, and success we have had” in the school district.

Grambling resident Veda Emerson claimed that racism still exists in Lincoln Parish and the school system.

Said Emerson, “You are so stuck on color and dealing with what’s been going on for ever and ever in Ruston, Louisiana…We black folks are supposed keep our places, and stay in our places.”

David Ferguson, District 10 said some of the email and phone calls he received were racist.

Said Ferguston, “We as adults have to respect one another.”

Hunter Smith, District 7, said he wished that more people would be involved in the local schools, and not just whenever a major issue surfaced.

Said Smith, “Get involved. Run for office. Volunteer for PTA. Go to a sporting event. Show that you care all the time, and not just when major decisions are involved.”


Lisa Best switches to Durrett


After several impassioned comments from citizens and board members, the Lincoln Parish School Board moments ago voted 7/5 to appoint Ricky Durrett as superintendent of the district.

Switching her Monday vote for Lyons to Durrett was District Eight’s Lisa Best.

More reporting later.

Interviews Precede Split Vote


Last night’s 6/6 split vote of the Lincoln Parish School Board followed over 2 1/2 hours of interviews of the two candidates – Ricky Durrett and Byron Lyons. Both were given identical questions by board attorney Jon Guice, followed by executive sessions where the board members asked questions.

The public questions took about 20 minutes for each, while the secret questioning lasted about 45 minutes for Lyons and an hour for Durrett.

Guice asked about the future of education and virtual learning in light of the recent pandemic events.

Said Lyons, “We have to prepare for the new normal. We have to come up with some professional development and teach teach teachers how to teach differently in the new normal.”

Durrett noted that face-to-face teaching was best, and that virtual learning was not “the be-all, end-all that takes the place of a teacher in our system.”

Lyons noted that he was a native of Lincoln Parish, attended Hillcrest and Glenview, and graduated from Grambling High School. He said he had held positions of increasing responsibility in several school systems.

Durrett told of his 30 year career in Lincoln Schools, from teaching and coaching at Simsboro and Ruston High, to principal tenures at those two schools.

Another special called meeting has been set for tomorrow (Wednesday, October 21) at 4:00 PM, Lincoln Parish Stem Center, 525 Tarbutton Road.

Here is the agenda.

Tie Vote on School Supt


With two consecutive votes on signed paper ballots, the Lincoln Parish School Board tonight adjourned after the board split 6-6 between Byron Lyons and Ricky Durrett for the next district superintendent.

Voting for Durrett:

Voting for Lyons:

The board is expected to meet again in the next few days and try to break the stalemate. We will have additional reporting tomorrow on the interviews and related discussion.

School Board to Appoint Supt Today


The Lincoln Parish School board will this afternoon appoint a new superintendent to replace the retiring Mike Milstead, according to the agenda for today’s 4:00 PM meeting.

Interviews for the two candidates – Ricky Durrett and Byron Lyons – will start off the meeting, followed by adoption of procedures and then a final vote.

The meeting will be at the STEM Center building, 525 Tarbutton Road.

Police Jury Passes on Chance to Unload County Market bldg


The long-held dream of some of the Courthouse Crowd for a shiny new courthouse on a hill is still alive, after the Lincoln Parish Police Jury last night turned down a million dollar offer to buy the old County Market building property.

A Florida-based developer had offered $1 million in cash for the property in a letter dated 8/31/20.

Parish Administrator Doug Postel told how the offer came about.

“The office has received multiple calls from this company. Finally, (LPPJ Purchasing Agent) Mrs Webb told them to send us an offer. I would like to send them a response.”

On a motion by Matt Pullen and a second by Marvin Franks, the jury voted unanimously to decline the offer.

The building and property has a long history with the jury ever since it was purchased in September, 2009 for $1.45 million. That same month, the jury borrowed $1.5 million to finance the purchase.

See here the act of cash sale.

Since then, plans and dreams to tear down the building, construct a new courthouse, and then turn the existing courthouse block into a park have waxed and waned. As is the case with all government dreams, the reality of finding the 20 to 40 million dollars to make the dream come true has been problematic.

Perhaps not as newsworthy, but definitely unusual, was the presence last night of several Union Parish Police Jurors, including President Johnny Buckley. They were there to ask Lincoln jurors to continue utilizing the Union Parish Landfill for solid wast disposal.

The contract adopted in 2010 is expiring this year. When it was adopted, the jury chose to go with the higher of the two bids.

White Oaks Landfill in Monroe is also soliciting Lincoln’s business.

Said Buckley, “We are still actively seeking to continue the relationship with y’all on your solid waste disposal.”

Lincoln Parish Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Kip Franklin noted in his report that because of Hurricane Laura, FEMA had declared Lincoln Parish a federal disaster area.

District One’s Theresa Wyatt asked to be kept informed of the status of any disaster funding that might be approved.

Said Wyatt, “Would you pass that information on to us so we can pass it on to our municipalities.”

Of interest to Greater Ward One Waterworks customers is a vacancy on that agency’s board of directors. Any resident that might be interested in serving should contact their police juror or the jury office, as the full jury will be making that appointment next month.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Tuesday


Tuesday’s (10/13) meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury will feature several committee meetings prior to the full jury meeting.

  • Public Works Committee – 5:15 PM
  • Personnel/Benefits Committee – 5: 30 PM
  • Insurance Committee – 5:45 Pm
  • Finance Committee – 6:15 PM
  • Lincoln Parish Police Jury – 7:00 PM

All meetings will be at the Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Here are the agendas.

Two Lincoln Seniors National Merit Semi-Finalists


Two Lincoln Parish seniors were last night recognized as National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists – Caleb Phillips of Ruston High School and Eli Watson of Choudrant High School.

District Communications Coordinator Brandon Sutherland noted that Phillips maintains a 4.36 GPA and has played Bearcat football and soccer for four years. He intends to study chemical engineering in college.

Watson maintains a 4.1 GPA, and is also the Choudrant Cross Country team captain. He hopes to attend a military service academy and study engineering.

Both young men introduced their parents and thanked the schools for helping them realize their life goals.

The board set Monday, October 19, 4PM & 6 PM, to interview the two applicants for the district’s superintendent position – Ricky Durrett and Byron Lyons.

Durrett is the Lincoln Parish School District’s Secondary Supervisor and has been employed in the district in teaching, coaching, principal, and supervisory positions for many years.

Lyons was most recently Director of Human Resources for the Cleveland, OH Metropolitan School District, according to his Linkedin page. He is a Lincoln Parish native, and had applied for the job in 2015, when Mike Milstead won the appointment.

During the business part of the meeting, Business Manager Juanita Duke got approval to distribute the November salary supplement payment to employees. Those with teaching certificates will receive $3 thousand, and other employees will receive $1.5 thousand.

Here’s the memo.

Also, a resolution was adopted that lays out how some the $4.4 million in proceeds from the new 1/2 cent sales tax will be distributed, relative to future salary supplement payments.

Here’s the resolution.

Restaurants Added to Ruston Tax District


Several restaurants were added to Ruston’s “Economic Development District” at last night’s meeting, and will be charging customers the 1.75% additional tax enacted two years ago that funds the city’s sports complex.

The tax district’s boundaries have been changed several times to take in new establishments and remove those no longer in business.

Among the additions:

  • Common Goods, LLC – 107 North Trenton
  • PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans – 1736 Farmerville Hwy
  • Big Boyz Smokehouse – 812 Lewis St
  • Extreme 33 Energy and Nutrition – 2314 Common Court, Ste 1
  • KaCee Dillas – 1800 Indiana Ave
  • Dorian Asian Fusion – 307 East Georgia Ave
  • Chicken Salad Chick – 1300 Maxwell Blvd
  • Trio’s Dining – 101 Pelican Blvd
  • La Bodeguita – 914 South Vienna St
  • The Platter – 708 Celebrity Dr

See here the ordinance.

The council also approved one year cooperative endeavor agreements with Ruston Girls Softball Association and Ruston Youth Baseball.

Originally, the proposed agreements were for three years, but the council decided that the terms should be for one year only.

Lincoln Parish School Board Tuesday


The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet Tuesday, October 6, STEM Center, 525 Tarbutton Road, 6:00 PM.

Here is the agenda.