Archive for the ‘City of Ruston’ Category

Ruston PD “short-handed”, vacations curtailed

07/21/2016

The Ruston Police Department (RPD) is significantly understaffed, so much so that vacations scheduled after July 17 must be approved on a case-by-case basis, according to a memo sent to RPD officers July 5.

From the document sent by Deputy Chief Gerald Jenkins:

Due to recent manpower issues, all vacation requests scheduled to begin after July 17, 2016, will be reviewed and approved/denied on a case by case basis, regardless of the date the request was submitted.

See here the memo.

Another city official told Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) that, “they are short-handed.”

Sources have told LPNO that several officers have gone to work for other area sheriff’s offices that pay more.

Last year, the RPD budget was cut about $20 thousand, while the city’s executive department enjoyed a $300 thousand boost.

2015 budget summary
2016 budget summary

Budget planning for fiscal year 2017 is underway now, sources say. The new budget is customarily adopted at the September meeting, and goes into effect October 1.

Booze @ Ruston “Community Events” Allowed if Ordinance Passes

07/12/2016

It was a relatively short meeting (less than twenty minutes) of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen, but a couple of important ordinances were introduced that will be voted on at the August meeting.

One deals with alcoholic beverages, and enacts several changes:

Restaurant closing hours extended from Midnight to 2 AM.

Consumption of alcohol allowed on sidewalks adjacent to the serving restaurant.

Open containers allowed during permitted community events.

Mayor given authority, rather than the council, to administer the alcohol laws, and to grant or refuse permits.

See here the complete document.
See here the existing ordinance.

Also, an ordinance was introduced to set the property tax rates for tax year 2016. As this is a reassessment year, to council can either “roll forward” or “roll back” the rates.

See here the proposed ordinance.

For 2015, the rates for the two property taxes were set at 5.88 mils, and 2.92 mils.

At the August meeting, public hearings on both proposed ordinances will be held to allow public comment prior to the council’s final vote.

Ruston Board of Aldermen Monday

07/08/2016

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, July 11, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Ruston Shoppers Will Pay More on July 1

06/07/2016

The City of Ruston’s Board of Aldermen voted unanimously for an ordinance formally enacting a new 3/4% sales tax for the next twenty years at last night’s meeting. The vote on a motion by Jed Lewis, seconded by Carolyn Cage, ratifies an April 9 special election approval by Ruston voters.

See here the ordinance.

Among the projects the tax will fund is a new sports facility at the South Farmerville Street Complex. The council approved a resolution approving the hire of Yeager, Watson & Associates as architects for the project.

See here the resolution.

Mayor Ronny Walker said, “Perry (Watson) has an office next to the Corner Drug Store, is a Tech graduate, lives here, has done quite a few of these (sports complexes), and has a very impressive team he’s put together.”

Also approved was hiring of Hunt, Guillot, & Associates (HGA) to design, maintain, and operate a web-based portal that will help inform the public on the progress of the several Moving Ruston Forward projects.

See here the resolution.

Area motorists who use Cooktown Road should soon see some traffic congestion relief with construction of turn lanes just north of the intersection with North Service Road.

The northbound Cooktown Road traffic will have a turn lane allowing access to Brister’s Smokehouse and the Dairy Queen, while the southbound traffic will have a turn lane for access to North Service Road westbound traffic.

Construction will begin in July and should take about 130 days, Project Supervisor John Freeman said.

Ruston City Council Monday

06/05/2016

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, June 6, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton. Here is the agenda.

Mays Sentenced to Life w/o Parole

05/19/2016

Cameron Mays, convicted last month of Aggravated Kidnapping, Aggravated Rape, and Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, was this morning sentenced in Third Judicial District Court in Ruston to two life terms, plus twenty years.

The sentences will be concurrent (served at the same time), and are not eligible for parole, probation, or suspension of sentence.

Division B Judge Tommy Rogers said that there was no victim impact statement, but that the victim “dramatically and eloquently testified to her absolute terror” during her testimony at trial.

Rogers also said that Mays’ testimony at his trial showed a “total disregard for the truth,” and that he was “unwilling to take responsibility” for his crimes.

A Second Degree Murder charge against Mays is still pending, and his alleged accomplice in the murder, Brandon Bonton, is scheduled for trial on September 26. Susan Hashway, 64, was found dead in her home several days after the Monday, 6/4/12 kidnapping and rape.

Kevin Owens, Mays alleged accomplice in the rape and kidnapping, was originally scheduled to be a prosecution witness, but last February “dropped of the face of the earth” and couldn’t be located by prosecutor Mike Ruddick.

Owens has never been charged in the case.

Ruston Police Chief Steve Rogers, and Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone were seen in the courtroom today.

Federal Lawsuit has Connections to ABC News Ruston Visit

05/13/2016

The visit of ABC News’ Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross to Ruston last week likely is connected to a whistle-blower lawsuit now wending its way through federal court, Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) has learned.

Ross was working on a follow-up to a March, 2016 news story that reports on the high cost of helicopter ambulance service. He interviewed Carl Cheshire, a former employee of Air Methods Corporation (AMC), the subject of the earlier interview, according to court documents.

Sky-Rage: Bills, Debt, Lawsuits Follow Helicopter Medevac Trips

The lawsuit, Cheshire v Air Methods Corp., was originally filed in a state court, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Court in February, 2015. In March of that year it was moved to federal court, U. S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, in Monroe.

Plaintiff Cheshire alleges in his lawsuit that his former employer AMC fired him in retaliation for:

Reporting safety violations to his supervisors.
Reporting improper fuel burn rate calculations to his supervisors.
Reporting that aircraft mechanical issues were being ignored, and proper maintenance was not performed.
Reporting that maintenance records were not accurately reported.

Cheshire also alleges that controlled dangerous substances were adulterated, which compromised flight safety, and caused inaccurate insurance reports.

AMC denied the allegations.

The Ruston connection is that Pafford EMS, a local emergency services provider is allied with AMC who provides air ambulance service to Pafford, according to a Pafford Facebook posting.

From the Pafford Air One Facebook page:

Pafford Air One enjoys a special partnership with Air Methods Corporation to provide practical solutions to Critical Care Transport needs within our area of operation.

For several years Air Methods has provided the aircraft, pilots, and maintenance personnel to support the AirOne mission.

It is notable that much of the deposition testimony in the lawsuit has been sealed and kept secret by court orders signed by either by U. S. District Judge Robert James, or by Magistrate Judge Karen Hayes.

072215 – Order to Seal Exhibits
042816 – Order to Seal Documents
050316 – Protective Order
050316 – Memorandum Order

Cheshire opposed the gag orders, particularly a report by David Downey.

050316 – Opposition to Protective Order

Downy is a Texas-based consultant on aircraft safety, certification, and training.

Downey Aviation Services

This week, AMC filed a motion requesting a fishing expedition to determine whether Cheshire or his attorney violated the gag orders.

051116 – Motion for Discovery
051116 – Memo in Support

In the documents, AMC discusses the Wednesday, May 4 Cheshire interview with ABC news at Ruston Regional Airport, and claims that the interview may have violated the court’s orders.

Cheshire filed a motion in opposition to the discovery requests the next day.

051216 – Opposition to Memo for Discovery
051216 – Memo in Support

The opposition memo notes:

Safety was the topic of the interview. The case was not discussed during the interview. No confidential information was disclosed prior to, during, or subsequent to the interview. Expert reports were not discussed, nor were their findings.

Cheshire’s attorney is Ashley Paige of Ruston.

AMC’s attorneys are Kristine Keenan and Jeremy Landry, the Kullman Law Firm, Baton Rouge.

ABC News Big in Fender-bender @ Ruston Airport

05/11/2016

Brian Ross, Chief Investigative Correspondent for ABC News was involved in a fender-bender at Ruston Regional Airport last Wednesday, May 4, according to a Ruston Police Department (RPD) Incident Report obtained by Lincoln Parish News Online (LPNO) pursuant to a public records request.

From the report:

On the day of 05/04/16 at approximately 1621 hours. I. Sgt. Brown responded to Ruston Regional Airport. 128 Flightline Dr. in reference to a private property accident. Upon arrival, I spoke with driver of vehicle, Brian E. Ross who advised that he was backing away from the hangar when he struck a parked vehicle. I observed minor damage on the right rear bumper and quarter panel of Ross’s vehicle. I observed damage on the parked vehicle to be minor on the driver front quarter panel driver side door and side mirror. The other vehicle was properly parked and was not occuppied at the time of the accident. Ross advised that the vehicle he was driving was a rental vehicle and is self insured. I observed no insurance on the rental agreement which Ross provided. I advised Ross to contact RPD the next business day with the insurance information. All parties were advised that a report would be on file.

Last week, it was reported that the news crew was working on a story regarding air ambulance work. RPD was responding to a trespassing complaint against the news crew. No arrests were made, nor was any report filed on the original complaint, LPNO was told.

See here the complete incident report.

Incident @ Ruston Airport w/ABC News

05/06/2016

By Chris Butler

ABC REPORTER VISITS RUSTON ON ASSIGNMENT

ABC News reporter Brian Ross was indeed in Ruston Wednesday, and he was there to do a story on air ambulance service work in the area, Mayor Ronny Walker told Ruston Rants Thursday.

Ross was at a privately-owned hanger at the Ruston Airport when the owner called the Ruston Police Department. Ruston Police then asked Ross and his ABC News crew to leave the hanger as it was private property, Walker said.

While leaving the scene, a member of the ABC News crew backed into a city-owned vehicle, Walker added.

Walker did not say if either of the two vehicles sustained damage, and he also said he did not have a written report on the incident to refer to.

Walker said he was not at the scene.

Monroe attorney Mark Neal told Ruston Rants that Ross and his crew “were doing some type of inquiry.”

“They were not, to my knowledge, there to any degree to discuss Pafford,” Neal said, referring to the emergency medical services provider, which has an office in Ruston.

Ruston Rants has sent an open records request to the Ruston Police Department for a copy of any report related to Wednesday’s incident.

UPDATE (5:39 p.m.) Ruston attorney Ashley Page said she disputes something Walker said.

“The owner of the hangar gave permission last Friday and again yesterday morning for ABC to film in his hanger.”
Page did not say who the hanger belonged to.

Ruston City Council Monday

04/30/2016

Ruston’s Board of Aldermen will meet Monday, May 2, 5:30 PM, Ruston City Hall, 401 North Trenton.

Here is the agenda.

Notable is a budget amendment for $425 thousand to fund construction of a recycling transfer station at the parish landfill.

See here the document.


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