Archive for the ‘City of Ruston’ Category

Speed Trap: Slaughter, LA

04/19/2017

From The Hayride

Needless To Say, Slaughter’s Mayor Robert Jackson Ought To Resign Yesterday If Not Sooner

By Scott McKay

Something both conservatives and liberals ought to be able to agree upon is that the traffic and criminal laws shouldn’t be a vehicle for local government revenue.

Which is to say, it is an abuse of power to see the writing of tickets as a means of taxing the populace rather than to promote public safety. That’s why Louisiana law, in RS: 40:2401.1, declares…

“municipalities and their police departments are prohibited from establishing or maintaining on a formal or informal basis policies which require or suggest predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of arrests or traffic citations.”

Unfortunately, the town of Slaughter, which is in East Feliciana Parish northeast of Baton Rouge, has a mayor who doesn’t give a fig about his constituents and certainly has no regard for state law. Bobby Jackson was caught on tape commanding the town’s police chief and his chief deputy to have his officers write 40 tickets apiece each month, which is about double what they currently write. Regardless of what it’ll take to write those tickets.

Thankfully, the chief deputy recorded the conversation and gave it to WBRZ-TV…

It’s fair to say the mayor acquitted himself poorly in that interview. It’s also fair to say he’s not exactly a leader you’d expect great results from.

But Bobby Jackson, who ought to clear out of his office and go back to whatever private sector job he has on the side before lunch today, isn’t alone. This business of using law enforcement to prey upon the populace in order to raise money for the ruling class, is a lot more widespread than it ought to be. It’s a practice which goes all the way back to medieval times; there is an unquestionable feudal odor to the idea of manipulating the law so as to squeeze the serfs out of their spare change.

And in larger towns than Slaughter – Baton Rouge is a great example – using the cops as a cash generator by hammering away at tickets for inspection stickers and driving five miles an hour over the speed limit rather than having them concentrate on fulfilling the vow to protect and serve is common practice. One of the expected results from the Alton Sterling investigation the Justice Department is going to release soon, while the police officer who shot Sterling is likely to be exonerated, is that the BRPD and city-parish government will come under fire for burying its citizens, and particularly poor and black citizens, under a financial burden with excessive and expensive traffic and other tickets. That was one of DOJ’s key findings when it investigated the Mike Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri – that town was using the issuance of tickets as a means of alternative taxation, and forcing lots of poor citizens into outlaw status because they simply couldn’t afford $500 for a speeding ticket, and so forth.

This should be greatly discouraged. It’s one thing to enforce traffic laws, though those can be enforced by a police officer stopping a motorist and delivering a friendly lecture on road safety just as much as sticking a driver with hundreds of dollars in fines. It’s another to use the police as something akin to mob enforcers. It’s correct that this should be illegal, and if Jackson won’t resign here’s hoping Attorney General Jeff Landry writes the mayor a big ticket of his own.

Ruston Audit Shows Books in Order

04/04/2017

Ruston CPA Douglas Brewer told last night’s meeting of the Ruston City Council that the 10/1/15-9/30/16 fiscal year audit was “unmodified” and there were no findings.

“The city received an unmodified opinion, and there were no compliance or internal control findings to be reported this year,” said Brewer. “We want to thank (City Clerk) Emmett Gibbs and Treasurer’s Department for a fine job this year,” he added.

The complete report should be available on the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s website within the next week or two.

In other business, the council approved an ordinance to issue $34 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements in the I-20 Improvement District. The bonds will be placed locally with Regions Bank.

On the matter of the 11 acres at the old city airport, City Attorney Bill Carter told Lincoln Parish News Online that the property appraised for about $90 thousand, and will be sold to Correct Commissary for half that price.

In exchange, Correct guarantees that it will create 20 permanent and 10 temporary new jobs over the next 3 years. Should Correct not follow through, the agreement will have a “clawback provision” to repay the city.

Correct will build a warehouse that will be used to house items used in LaSalle Correction’s prisons.

Finally, an ordinance was approved to annex about 83 acres into the city located between Beacon Light Road and the KCS Railway tracks, just east of Beacon Light’s intersection with McDonald Avenue. The property will be zoned for industrial use.

See here the proposed ordinance and property plat.

Ruston Board of Aldermen Monday

04/02/2017

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, April 3, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Up for introduction is an ordinance that will allow sale of 11 acres of city property at the old airport off Farmerville Street. The prospective purchaser, Correct Commissary, is an affiliate of LaSalle Corrections based in Ruston.

Some Ruston Misdemeanors Will no Longer Require Bail

03/31/2017

Some violators of City of Ruston misdemeanor ordinances will no longer be required to post a bond, and will instead be released on recognizance (ROR), which only requires a signature by the accused offender as a promise to appear at a court date. Among the offenses that may still require a cash bond are: assault, battery, DWI, resisting arrest, and flight from an officer.

The new policy was spelled out in an order by Ruston City Court Judge Danny Tatum.

Previously, there was a preset bond schedule for offenses.

See here the order.

Third Judicial District Court judges are said to be contemplating a similar order for that jurisdiction.

The action came as a result of a federal lawsuit in Bossier Parish that challenged the practice of preset bonds for minor crimes. The plaintiffs alleged that indigents charged with crimes often served jail time awaiting trial because they couldn’t afford bail, nor could they afford the $40 fee for an indigent attorney.

The new policy could result in a reduction of inmate population at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center, and negate the need to expand the jail’s capacity.

Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone is currently lobbying the Lincoln Parish Police Jury to “co-sign” for a $2.5 million construction project to add nearly 100 new cells at the jail.

Stone’s plan is also threatened by reductions in state funding for housing state prisoners, a major source of revenue for the local jail.

According to a 3/10/17 New Orleans Times Picayune news story, the daily rate which the state reimburses may be cut from $24.39 to $10.25.

Tarbutton Interchange Construction Seen Soon

03/07/2017

The long-delayed interchange at Tarbutton Road and Interstate 20 should see construction starting by late summer, City of Ruston Mayor Ronny Walker told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) at last night’s meeting of the city’s Board of Aldermen. Construction will last up to three years, Walker said.

The council approved a resolution to employ Beast Engineering of Benton to oversee inspection of the project.

Also approved was a resolution added to the agenda that authorized supplemental funding for the project.

During discussion of that resolution, Walker said that the bids had come in over budget, and that the city would make up some of the overage. Bids

Said Walker, “We had $14 million on state funds, $4 million on federal funds. The bid came in $7 million and change above that. The state called and said if we can split this, we can come up with some money. Fortunately, we had already put a little over $4 million in the budget from the TID funds that we just bonded out – the $34 million – so we had funds available.”

Another project that received the go-ahead was replacement of the Colvin Creek bridge on East Kentucky Avenue.

That project is set to begin with the next month or so, with the actual bridge construction during the summer. Kentucky Avenue will be closed for about 5 weeks, but should be open for traffic before schools start in August.

Cost of the project is about $1.35 million.

City to Purchase More Rec Property

03/05/2017

Ruston’s City Council will be asked to approve the purchase of more land for the planned sports complex on South Farmerville Street. United Methodist Children’s Home owns the 13.14 acre parcel (no. 36183167001) just south of the Lifecare Specialty Hospital.

According to the resolution, the purchase price will be for “an amount not exceeding the appraised value, assemblage value, use value or just compensation value.”

See here the resolution.

Also, a new ordinance will be introduced that will outlaw the use of “airguns, air rifles, and blowguns” within the city limits.

From the proposed ordinance:

The use, firing, shooting and explosion of airgun, air rifles and blowguns within the city are declared to be a nuisance, and it shall be unlawful for any person to use, fire, shoot or explode airguns, air rifles or blowguns within the city limits.

The council meeting is set for 5:30 PM, Monday, March 6 at Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Council Approves Rec Property Purchase

02/07/2017

Ruston taxpayers will soon spend slightly over $1 million to purchase three parcels of land totaling about 29.4 acres on South Farmerville Street for development of a proposed recreational complex.

The city’s Board of Aldermen approved unanimously at last night’s meeting the purchase of 14.47 acres from the Campus Community Assembly of God (parcel no. 36183000093) for about $818,000.

According to Mayor Ronny Walker, the property itself was appraised for about $230,000, and the building was valued at about $588 thousand. Walker said that the church building would be utilized as a new office for the the Ruston Parks and Recreation Department.

The church is located at 2505 South Vienna, and the property extends from South Vienna (US 167) eastward to South Farmerville Street.

Also approved was purchase of two parcels from Ruston Girls Softball Association (36183119795 & 36183954349), totaling about 14.9 acres. That price was about $235 thousand, City Attorney Bill Carter said.

Those two parcels are on the east side of South Farmerville, near the intersection of Ball Park Road.

Earlier, the council heard from Wastewater Superintendent Keith Jeselink, who reported that a bid had been awarded to Jabar Corporation for sewer rehab on South Farmerville Street, Calvin Avenue, Oakdale Street, Jones Street, Taylor Street, and South Trenton.

The contract amount was about $980 thousand. An LCDBG grant will pay about $568 thousand of the cost, Jeselink said.

Ruston Board of Aldermen to Meet Monday

02/05/2017

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

Here is the agenda.

Ruston’s $34 Million Bond Sale Plan Delayed

01/10/2017

A plan by the City of Ruston’s administration to issue up to $34 million in bonds to be repaid from sales tax revenues was delayed at last night’s City Council meeting. The bonds are to help finance Walker’s Moving Ruston Forward project of street, drainage, sewer, and recreation improvements.

Mayor Ronny Walker said he would soon be meeting in Baton Rouge with state officials to clear up the problem.

Said Walker, “This has been something that has been going on for 24 years, the rules have been the same. All of a sudden last month they decided to change them a little bit, so we feel we are on firm footing as far as our contract with the state. We just want to go down and make sure all of the votes are there.”

Earlier, City Attorney Bill Carter said the administration would likely be coming back to the council for approval of the bond sale plan at the February meeting.

In other business, the council approved contracts for two significant street construction projects.

Amethyst Construction was awarded $2 million to complete the extension of Martin Luther King Drive from its intersection of South Farmerville Street eastward to intersect with Mills Avenue. The right of way has been cleared, and the project is expected to be completed late in 2017 or early 2018, depending upon the weather.

Mills Avenue will be expanded to three lanes all the way to its intersection with South Vienna Street, Paul Riley of Riley Engineering told Lincoln Parish News Online.

Also, Womack & Sons of Harrisonburg was low bidder for the $7.3 million extension of I-20 North Service Road East from Tractor Supply eastward to Rough Edge Road, just over 1 1/2 miles. This project will take up to three years to complete, it was said.

Ruston City Council Monday

01/08/2017

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet tomorrow (Monday, January 9), 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Several Cooperative Endeavor Agreements (contracts) will be considered by the board. The city contracts with several quasi-public entities, usually providing city-owned property and/or services and labor in return for some kind of community program.

See here who provides what:

Ruston Housing Authority
Ruston Dixie Baseball Association, Inc.
Ruston Girls Softball Association, Inc.
LTP Medical Mobile, Inc.
People Centered Support Services, Inc.
Boys and Girls Club of North Central Louisiana
Buddy Ball of Ruston, Inc.