Archive for February, 2023

Plaintiff motions approved in Jones v LPDCC


Three plaintiff motions were approved Friday by Magistrate Judge Kayla McClusky in the wrongful death suit Jones vs Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission, et al.

The action approves a 90 day extension to obtain the identities of unnamed defendants, amend the complaint to add those parties, and properly serve them.

Also approved was a motion to substitute Key’zarious Jones as the plaintiff to replace her deceased mother Franequa. She is the sister of the deceased Demerious Jones, and Franequa was the mother.

Finally, Sean Guy was formally enrolled as a plaintiff attorney.

See here the documents.


Trial date set for Detention Center death lawsuit


A 9:00 AM, February 6, 2024 trial date has been set for the civil case of Jones v Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission, et al, in US Court for the Western District of Louisiana, in Monroe.

The order, signed yesterday by Magistrate Judge Kayla McClusky, also sets various other dates and times for motions, conferences and submissions.

See here the signed order.

In other developments in the case, a Ridgeland, MS attorney has petitioned the court to sign on as plaintiff co-counsel. Sean Guy is with McCraney Montagnet Quin & Noble PLLC.

See here the motion.

Grant Castillo of The Townsley Law Firm, LLP, Lake Charles initially filed the suit.

The complaint alleges that Demerious Jones was denied medical care while in the custody of the detention center and died as a result.

Governor’s race comes to LPPJ


We can’t recall ever seeing a candidate for Louisiana Governor at a Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting, but we saw it last night.

Richard Nelson is a 36 year old who grew up in Mandeville, LA. He serves as a state representative for District 89, which includes a good portion of the Lake Pontchartrain Northshore.

Nelson says “I want parents in Houston and New York to be telling their friends that their kid just got a job in Louisiana, not the other way around.”

He noted that the last time Louisiana gained a congressional seat from population growth was 1910, when the state went from 7 to 8 seats.

The state now only has 6.

While Louisiana has increased in population, other states have grown faster, causing the loss of representation.

One of the planks in his platform is to repeal the state income tax, so as to be more competitive with neighboring states.

Police Jury business was as routine as we have seen in some time.

The Public Works Committee approved, and the full jury ratified, purchase of 6 rail tank car culverts. Only $36 thousand was budgeted for this purpose, but the lowest responsive bid was $136 thousand. The finance committee will have to execute a budget amendment to cover the extra cost.

Also approved was purchase of 80 acres for $220 thousand near Hwy 545 for use as an iron ore pit. Iron ore is commonly used as a road base material in the region.

Three board vacancies were announced, one for the Lincoln Parish Library Board of Control, and two for the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Police Jury meets tomorrow


The Lincoln Parish Police Jury will meet Tuesday, February 14, Lincoln Parish Court House, 100 West Texas Ave., third floor conference room.

Here are the agendas and meeting times:

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Lincoln Parish School Tax Districts


Active discussion precedes split vote on School construction plan


Plans to close two of the parish’s elementary schools and renovate two others was approved on a 7-4 vote at last night’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish School Board, after an hour-long impassioned debate that was as spirited as we have seen in almost 14 years of covering the agency.

Here’s what got voted on:

Hillcrest Elementary – $25,410,000.00

  • New Addition- Classrooms, multi-purpose gym, new lobby and administration, restrooms, and storageĀ­ including, site work, furnishings and fixtures
  • New Covered Bus Drop-off  and Extended Sidewalk
  • New Parent Pick-up Driveway
  • Parking Lot Additions  and extended driveway
  • Cafeteria Improvements
  • New Playground Equipment
  • Landscaping

Glen View Elementary – $27,454,000.00

  • New Addition- Classrooms, multi-purpose gym, new lobby and administration, restrooms, storage-  including site work, furnishings, fixtures, and demolition of west classroom wing                                                                       
  • New Covered Canopy for Parent Drop-off, New Covered Bus Drop-off  and Extend Sidewalk                     
  • New Parent Pick-up driveway                                                        
  • Parking Lot Additions  and extended driveway                          
  • Cafeteria Improvements                                                                
  • New Playground Equipment                                                         
  • Landscaping                                                                                   

Central Office Relocation – $5,000,000.00

  • Renovate Cypress Springs Elementary Campus or another Facility, or New Construction

Ruston High School – $4,951,000.00

  • New Covered Multi-purpose Facility, including artificial turf, site work and landscaping
  • Relocate existing road

Ruston High Baseball Complex – $2,185,000.00

  • New 500-seat Grandstand with Pressbox, including concrete base and demolition of old grandstand
  • Replace Backstop and fencing

Simsboro School – $10,000,000.00

  • New Addition- Classrooms, Agri-science Shop, and restrooms, including furnishings  and equipment
  • Gym Renovations and Lobby Addition, including furnishings
  • Parking, driveways, drainage, dirt work, and landscaping
  • Replace Lighting on Baseball and Softball fields
  • New Pre-K playground
  • Replace Auditorium seating

Ruston Elementary and Cypress Springs Elementary will be closed, and the Lincoln Early Childhood Center will be repurposed as a day care for teacher’s children.

A Saturday, April 29 election will be called for voters to approve, or not, issuance of the bonds to pay for the projects.

See here the documents.

Some of the objections were:

David Ferguson (District 2) – “We have received no statistics of any kind to say this program is going to work. I wish we would just table this is issue and get some kind of information that’s going to show us what we’re going to do will work.”

George Mack, Jr (District 11) – “Transparency, you can’t fake it.”

Joe Henderson (Police Juror, and husband of Lynda Henderson – District 9) – “We’re perceiving that everything’s going across I-20. We already have two Rustons divided by I-20”

District Superintendent Ricky Durrett said that the plan would eliminate elementary children having to attend several different schools in early grades, and would allow later morning pick-up by school buses.

There was some discussion whether putting pre-k students in with elementary-age students was a good idea.

Voting for the plan were: Doss, Smith, Hancock, Phillips, Canterbury, Mitcham, and Abrahm.

Voting no were: Ferguson, Williams, Henderson, and Mack.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a four-year extension of Durrett’s contract.

Also approved was the 2023-24 school year calendar. The personnel report was presented near the end of the meeting.

Hotel, entertainment center deal discussed


DBUZ Ruston, LLC will get a sweet deal for property at the Ruston Sports Complex after approval last night of cooperative endeavor agreements between DBUZ and the City of Ruston.

Two parcels of land at the complex totaling almost 6 acres with an appraised value of $500 thousand will be sold to the company for $50 thousand.

In return for that deal, the company will agree to “create a specified number of jobs in the City within a specified period.”

If that doesn’t happen, “DBUZ agrees to pay the full appraised value for the Property based on the appraised value set forth in the Appraisal.”

The 2.8 acre parcel near the complex entrance on which the hotel will be located is appraised for $275 thousand, and the other 3.1 acre parcel is appraised at $225 thousand. That parcel is located near the Ruston High School ball field.

The entertainment center will consist of “arcade, games, maybe a climbing wall. Some have putt-putt golf, some have go-carts – things like that,” said Mayor Ronny Walker.

Both agreements were passed unanimously by the council.

A budget amendment of $575 thousand was approved that will allow the Ruston Fire Department to purchase a light rescue truck was approved.

Fire Chief Chris Womack said that the truck being replaced was 23 years old.

School Board meetings tomorrow


The Lincoln Parish School Board will meet tomorrow, February 7, with two committee meetings in addition to the full board. The meetings are all at the Central Office, 410 South Farmerville Street.

Here are the agendas and meeting times:

Executive Committee – 10 AM

Building & Grounds Committee – 5:00 PM

Full Board Meeting – 6:00 PM

Autopsy, reports confirm parts of wrongful death suit


Several allegations contained in the federal lawsuit Jones v LPDCC have been confirmed, according to a coroner’s autopsy and investigator’s reports.

The suit was filed in September, 2022 by Franequa Jones, who alleged that her son Demerious was neglected while in the custody of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center in September, 2021, and died as a result of that negligence.

Franequa died soon after the suit was filed, but just this past Thursday, a motion was filed that would substitute Demerious’ sister as plaintiff, as she is the heir to his estate.

In the lawsuit, it is alleged that Demerious Jones was diabetic, and that detention center medical personnel were aware of his condition.

In a report, Union Parish Sheriff’s Office Deputy Michael McClain stated:

“While on scene I was advised Jones is known at LPDC due to him being a repeat offender and being housed at LPDC on numerous occasions. I was advised Jones is a diabetic who frequently neglects his heath.”

The lawsuit alleges that Jones exhibited symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis, which is potentially life-threatening.

Forensic Pathologist Dr. Frank Peretti, who conducted the autopsy, wrote:

“This 21-year-old,  black  male,  Demerious Jones, died of  hypertensive  cardiovascular disease with contributory factor of diabetic ketoacidosis.   Investigation of the circumstances of death revealed that the decedent was an inmate at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center when he became unresponsive. Reportedly, he had a history of diabetes mellitus.”

Also alleged in the suit was that Jones exhibited deteriorating health symptoms prior to his death.

Again, from McClain’s report:

“On 9/23/21at approximately 0800 hrs,Jones was placed in his holding cell and left on his bed. At approximately 0816, deputies returned to Jones’s cell and assisted him in moving his mattress to the floor. Over the next few hours Jones remained on the floor and was observed on his own,using his cup to drink water from the toilet.

“At approximately 1223 hrs, Jones was brought a tray of food. It appeared Jones refused to eat the food when offered by the deputies.The food tray was left on Jones’s bed and remained untouched. During this time Jones would move around on the floor and shift his position.

“At approximately 1459 hrs, deputies entered Jones’s cell for a medical checkup.The deputies assisted Jones in drinking and attempted to have him eat some food. At approximately 1543 hrs,Jones was brought another tray of food which he ignored. Over the next several hours Jones remained on the floor and continued to shift his positions and would prop up on his elbow and hands for time to time. 

“On the following morning of 9/24/21,Jones was still on the floor and appeared to vomit on himself. During this time I did observed deputies visually observe Jones by either opening the door or looking through the window.

“At approximately 0557 hrs. Nurse Jennifer entered the room and conducted a sugar test on Jones which she noted in her report. Jones remained on the floor but would continue to move around.

“At approximately 0726,Jones appeared to vomit again. Over the next few hours I observed Deputies to randomly check on Jones in which he appeared to communicate back with the deputy.

“At approximately 1158 hrs,Nurse Jennifer entered Jones’s cell and performed a sugar test and later administered the insulin she noted. At approximately 1233 hours Jones appeared to take several distressed breaths after which I could not detect any movement via the footage.

“At approximately 1247,a deputy entered with Nurse Jennifer. They were observed checking for a pulse at which point Jones was pulled out from under the bed and CPR was begun.”

See here all the documents.

Also of note is that the investigation was done not by the Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office, but by deputies from Ouachita and Uniion parishes, via an agency called the North Louisiana Sheriff’s Investigative Unit (NLSIU).

That agency was formed 2021 to investigate in-custody deaths and excessive force allegations, and is composed of investigators from Lincoln, Union, Ouachita, Caldwell, Franklin, Morehouse, and Richland parish sheriffs offices.

We can find no legislative authority for such an investigative unit.

Ruston City Council Monday


Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, February 6, 2023, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Two ordinances are to be considered to sell property at the Ruston Sports Complex to DBUZ, LLC, a Choudrant-based that is planning a hotel and entertainment center.

According to the documents, …”the City will agree to sell the Property to DBUZ for a price which may be less than the appraised value reflected by the Appraisal pursuant to certain terms and conditions…”, and …”DBUZ has agreed to create a specified number of jobs in the City within a specified period…”, among other terms.

See the proposed ordinances here and here.