Archive for January, 2021

Ruston City Council Tomorrow


Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, February 1, 2021, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Hartt Returns to LPPJ in Temp role; Postel Interim Treasurer


A former Lincoln Parish Police Jury Treasurer will assume some of the duties she formerly had at the jury, and jury Administrator Doug Postel will be the Interim Treasurer, it was decided at last night’s special called meeting of the jury.

Laura Hartt, who was Parish Treasurer from 2015 to 2017, will work part-time on a contract basis and perform accounting services for the jury. She moved to the City of Ruston and served as the City Clerk for 2 1/2 years before returning to private practice with her husband early last year.

Postel noted that she already provides a similar service for Morehouse Parish, and will work about 40 hours per month at an $85/hr. rate.

“She’s available to start tomorrow. She’ll utilize some of the (police jury) staff” to do some of the work, jury President Richard Durrett said. “We need to name Doug (Postel) Interim Treasurer to sign the necessary documents” he added.

Hartt and Postel will serve until a new permanent Treasurer can be hired. Presumably, that process will get underway soon.

The jury also contracted with their auditor to perform an exit audit of the jury’s books, a standard procedure whenever there are personnel changes in key positions


Library Board to Focus on Budget, Tax Vote


The Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control yesterday discussed organizing a process to search for and hire a new permanent director, but then realized that if the do-over of the property tax election in October were unsuccessful, there would be no need for a director.

Board member Amy Miller said that it would be difficult to recruit people when passage of a tax for funding salaries wasn’t a sure thing.

Said Miller, “I’d rather be ready to go – our taxes are approved” before opening the application process.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury President Richard Durrett, who will also serve as the jury’s representative on the board, said the first thing to focus on was to establish a budget and tax rate that voters would accept.

“What this body’s got to do is finalize a budget and come up with a millage,” he said.

Board Chair Augusta Clark hinted that budget cuts were likely.

“We already know that we have to make some revisions and some ‘paring down’ with some things. We’re going to be very realistic about it, because, you know, the public has sent us a message,” she said.

The board did approve a 10% percent salary increase for the Interim Director, from $48.5 thousand to $53.35 thousand. That salary is temporary and will revert to the lower amount whenever a permanent director is hired, and she resumes her duties as Materials Manager.

Also, the board discussed Information Technology support, and the need to contract that service to a local company, rather than from a company not located in Lincoln Parish.

Said board member Sandra Dupree, “People in Lincoln Parish are the ones who are responsible for this library. I could not understand why we would have gone outside of our parish to someone else.”

Special LPPJ Meeting Tomorrow


There’ll be a special called meeting of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury tomorrow (Thursday, January 21), 5:30 PM, Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Library Board Tomorrow


The Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control will meet tomorrow (Wednesday, January 20), 4:00 PM, Library Events Center, 910 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Alleged Victim Retains Counsel


December 31, 2020 at 12:00 PM ·

The O’Mara Law Group, along with Samuel Robert Filler, II, PA, is proud to be entrusted with the responsibility of assisting a young blind woman abused as a child while in the care of one of the training facilities endorsed by the National Federation of the Blind which are in Louisiana, Colorado and Minnesota. There are additional similar facilities in Utah, Maryland and elsewhere where such trainings occur, and we will be researching these as well. While we are in the investigatory stages, there is strong evidence that the allegations of ongoing sexual abuse of our client and many others occurred while she was on-site at one of these facilities and was perpetrated by an employee of the facility.

Over the last couple of days, it has also come to our attention that there are numerous other allegations of similar abuse in these facilities and at the hands of individuals trusted by these children, and their families.

We intend to hold every individual and every organization responsible for the abuse that occurred, and for the horrific aftermath of such abuse. Our demands to address this systemic infection will include ongoing oversight of the facilities, increased training of those entrusted and swift prosecution of the abusers.

We are saddened to discover that at least some of the organizations responsible had been told of these incidences of abuse yet did not report the abuse or police themselves or their employees adequately.

We stand ready to hold these abusers and organizations to task.

O’Mara Law Group

Mark M. O’Mara, Esq.
Board Certified Specialist, Criminal Trial
Board Certified Specialist, Marital and Family
Immediate Past President, National Trial Lawyers
O’Mara Law Group
221 NE Ivanhoe Blvd Suite 200
Orlando, Florida 32804
407-898-5151 office
407-898-2468 fax

Ruston’s Louisiana Center for the Blind Assault Allegations Alleged



Louisiana Center for the Blind Acknowledges systemic failures in handling assault allegations

By Kaylee Poche

The extent of the allegations is unclear at this time, but women have made accusations — ranging from rape, abuse and harassment — against at least three men affiliated with the Louisiana center. Others have made accusations of incidents happening at another NFB training center, the Colorado Center for the Blind.

Accusations involving the Louisiana center first gained significant attention in December, when one woman detailed her alleged sexual abuse at the Ruston training center in a public Facebook post. After that, many more women came forward publicly with stories of their own, tagging the posts with #MarchingTogether. Though many described abuse occurring in the last five years, NFB, the largest blind persons advocacy group in the country, acknowledges the problem is not new.

See the complete story here.

October Election Looms Large for Lincoln Parish


To voters in Louisiana, elections are a way of life, usually with several dates set during the year for local and regional political offices, and for tax levies of one type or another.

2021 is no different.

Usually, the tax elections are scheduled by the taxing body (sheriff, police jury, school board, municipality, etc) for one of the obscure election dates, so as to keep the turnout low. The theory goes that a low turnout brings out mostly voters who benefit from taxes, while general elections with a lengthy ballot bring out more voters who might be inclined to vote no on taxes.

For this reason, efforts to consolidate the schedule to fewer dates have been unsuccessful. Local government lobbyists have strangled in the crib any legislation toward that end.

Depending upon what happens this week, or maybe on March 20 and/or April 24 of this year, there could be two tax elections in Lincoln Parish, and a district judges race for Lincoln and Union Parishes on Saturday, October 9, 2021.

Late last year, Gov. John Bel Edwards issued a proclamation declaring Saturday, March 20 as election day for the District 2, Section 1 seat on the Louisiana Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. That seat became vacant after Jay McCallum was elected to the Louisiana Supreme Court.

That district and section includes voters in Bienville, Caldwell, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Union, and Winn Parishes.

So far the only announced candidate is Jeff Robinsnon, incumbent Third Judicial District (Lincoln, Union Parishes) Division A judge. Qualifying for the appeals court seat is this Wednesday through Friday, January 20-22.

If Robinson has no opponent, he wins by default, and his district court seat will become vacant. It is notable that Robinson won his first race in July, 2018 with no opposition. If he has opposition, that election would be set for 3/20/21, with a runoff date (if needed) of 4/24.

Several local attorneys are assuming Robinson will be successful and are preparing to run. Among the names mentioned:

Lewis Jones – Assistant District Attorney and unsuccessful judge candidate in 2014.

Monique Clement – Attorney and unsuccessful judge candidate in 2018.

Tyler Storms – Attorney and unsuccessful judge candidate in 2014.

The next available election date is October 9, 2021.

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes

October 9 is also the date that is next available for the Lincoln Parish Library’s tax millage that failed last December by a 57-43 margin. If it fails again, the library will cease operation, as the tax provides about 95% of its operating funds.

A millage that helps fund the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s office may be on the 10/9 ballot, as a 7.83 mil tax expires at the end of 2021. Here is the language that was voted on in April, 2012:

Shall the Law Enforcement District of the Parish of Lincoln, State of Louisiana (the “District”), under the provisions of Article VI, Section 30 of the Constitution of the State of Louisiana of 1974, Section 9003 of Title 33 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes of 1950, as amended, and other constitutional and statutory authority supplemental thereto, be authorized to continue the levy and collection of an ad valorem tax of seven and eighty-three hundredths (7.83) mills on all property subject to taxation in the District (an estimated $2,779,100 reasonably expected at this time to be collected from the levy of the tax for an entire year), for a period of ten (10) years, beginning with the year 2012 and ending with the year 2021, to be dedicated and used for the purpose of (1) drug education, prevention, and enforcement; (2) personnel, training, and equipment and (3) other lawful expenses and operations of the Sheriff’s Office?

The library tax defeat got the attention of the local Courthouse Crowd, we are reliably informed. We can’t recall the last time a tax in Lincoln Parish failed.

Durrett Elected LPPJ Prez, Melton VP


District Three’s Richard Durrett was last night unanimously elected President of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury. Likewise unanimously elected as Vice President was District Ten’s Milton Melton.

Durrett was nominated by District One’s Theresa Wyatt and seconded by District Twelve’s Annette Straughter. Melton was nominated by District Eight’s Skip Russell and seconded by District Eleven’s Sharyon Mayfield.

There were no other nominees for either position.

Elected last November in a special election, Durrett is no stranger to LPPJ’s workings. He served as Parish Administrator for 17 years, from 1989 to 2006. He is a civil engineer by vocation, graduating from LA Tech in 1964.

Durrett thanked outgoing President Joe Henderson (District Nine) for serving.

Said Durrett, “I want to thank Joe for serving last year, and the job he’s done, and I look forward to working with everybody on the jury, as well as the people in the parish, and hope that I can contribute. Truly it’s an honor that I appreciate – I’ll try to do the best job that I can.”

Administrator Doug Postel was reappointed for another year, but when Treasurer Chris Hyde’s two-year appointment was considered, the matter was tabled with no discussion until next month’s jury meeting.

This was a marked difference from the tone at last month’s jury meeting where the two were publicly evaluated. Hyde was almost unanimously praised on his job performance, while Postel received significant criticism.

Stay tuned until next month.

The jury granted final approval of the 2021 budgets for the jury and the Lincoln Parish Library, and reappointed Richard Aillet to the Board of Commissioners for Lincoln Parish Fire District No. 1.

During the Parks, Recreation & Tourism Committee Meeting, Chair Glenn Scriber reported on a proposed archery course for the Lincoln Parish Park.

Scriber said he envisioned a series of 3D archery targets on a 10 acre section in the northwest corner of the park, with sponsors providing funding for the equipment, and volunteers providing manpower.

Competitive archery is a growing sport, and would significantly increase park traffic, Scriber said.

The committee voted unanimously to proceed with creating a study group to do more planning.

The Health & Welfare Committee heard from Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Deputy Rob Sasser.

Most of the problems he encounters are a result of dogs running loose, he said. He recommended that the parish’s ordinances be updated to reflect the growth of the parish, and the corresponding reduction in open, rural area.

The jury voted to proceed with drafting a comprehensive plan to address the issue, along with funding estimates to carry out the plan.

On hand for the committee meeting was City of Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker.

Lincoln Schools Closed for Monday


Lincoln Parish Schools will be closed Monday, January 11, due to winter weather conditions. Student assignments can be found on Google Classroom, or some were sent home by teachers on Friday. Enjoy the snow and be safe!
Classes will resume on Tuesday, January 12, and students in grades 7-12 will be on the B schedule for Tuesday.

Ricky Durret
Lincoln Parish Schools