Archive for the ‘Lincoln Parish Police Jury’ Category

Is Another Judge Needed in Lincoln/Union?

07/26/2017

At yesterday’s meeting of the Lincoln Parish Detention Center Commission, there was a bit of discussion about how to move cases through the court system in a more timely way, so as to relieve overcrowding at the parish jail.

Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John Belton (who is also a member of the 5 person commission) said that a possible solution would be more court dates, or even the addition of a fourth judge to the district.

Said Belton, “If we had more court days, I think that would help.” He added, “Some of the numbers indicate we may need another judicial judgeship.”

Belton noted that adding another judge would be unlikely because of the state’s poor financial condition.

There was more discussion about pending plans to add about 100 more beds for the facility. The matter will be on the Lincoln Parish Police Jury’s August agenda, it was said.

Present plans call for the police jury to borrow the estimated $3 million to fund construction from a Rural Development Loan.

Presently, the jail houses 137 state prisoners, and this has resulted in no room for housing local inmates awaiting trial. The overflow local inmates are housed in other area jails that have available space.

The state pays the jail to keep the state prisoners, and that helps defray some of the jail’s operating costs.

To our knowledge, no one has done a study that estimates the operating cost of housing ONLY pretrial inmates and local prisoners, and no state prisoners.

Now, more than half the total jailed (137 of 241) are state inmates. If there were only about 100 local prisoners, food costs would be cut in half, at least, and the number of employees could be reduced significantly.

Nineteen Apply for LPPJ Treasurer Position

07/17/2017

Nineteen individuals have applied for the position of Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Treasurer. Of those, six did not meet minimum qualification.

See here the document detailing job description and qualifications. See here the advertisement for the position.

Of the half-dozen or so that appear to be most qualified, four have Master’s degrees or an MBA. All of that group are college graduates, most from Louisiana Tech University or the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Three of the top group have governmental accounting experience, and all are current residents of North Louisiana. One is a CPA.

Some of the applicants had requested anonymity because of their present employment status, and accordingly, we will respect that request.

LPPJ Committee has Improper Secret Session

07/13/2017

For the second time this year, a Lincoln Parish public body apparently has violated provisions of the state’s Open Meetings Law.

The Personnel/Benefits Committee of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) on Tuesday night met in executive session to “review applications for parish treasurer and recommend qualified finalists for interview.”

However, the committee failed to have a roll call vote on the motion for executive session, nor did the motion clearly state the reason for the session.

LA RS 42:16 Executive Sessions

The vote of each member on the question of holding such an executive session and the reason for holding such an executive session shall be recorded and entered into the minutes of the meeting.

Secondly, the Open Meetings Law does not make an exception for the discussion of an appointment to a public body.

LA RS 42:17 Exceptions to Open Meetings

A. A public body may hold an executive session pursuant to R.S. 42:16 for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) Discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person, provided that such person is notified in writing at least twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, before the scheduled time contained in the notice of the meeting at which such executive session is to take place and that such person may require that such discussion be held at an open meeting. However, nothing in this Paragraph shall permit an executive session for discussion of the appointment of a person to a public body or, except as provided in R.S. 39:1593(C)(2)(c), for discussing the award of a public contract. In cases of extraordinary emergency, written notice to such person shall not be required; however, the public body shall give such notice as it deems appropriate and circumstances permit.

Finally, during the secret meeting, the committee reviewed the applicants, and recommended finalists to be interviewed, according to a source who was in the meeting. Review is permissible, but the recommendation cannot be done in secret.

LA RS 42:16 Executive Sessions

An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempted from discussion at open meetings by R.S. 42:17; however, no final or binding action shall be taken during an executive session.

Accordingly, we have filed a formal complaint with the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney asking that the committee’s action be declared null and void. The Open Meetings Law has a provision that requires the local DA to take action if a complaint is made.

LA RS 42:25 – Enforcement

B. Each district attorney shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter throughout the judicial district within which he serves. He may institute enforcement proceedings on his own initiative and shall institute such proceedings upon a complaint filed with him by any person, unless written reasons are given as to why the suit should not be filed.

Also, we have filed a public records request with the Police Jury’s Custodian of Records seeking the names of the applicants who have applied for the Parish Treasurer position.

LPSO to Begin Dumpster Patrols

07/12/2017

For the next six months at least, Lincoln Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) deputies will begin patrolling the parish’s trash dumpsters in unmarked cars, in an effort to control problems with scavenging and out-of-parish dumping. The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) Solid Waste & Recycling Committee voted unanimously at last night’s meeting to approve a plan presented by LPSO Investigations & Patrol Commander Stephen Williams.

Taxpayers, however will be dinged to pay for the deputy patrols, up to a maximum of $1,200/week. Vehicle expenses will not be billed.

See here the proposal.

Williams said that Saturday and Sunday evenings were the prime times for problems. “The sheriff’s office is not looking to make any money off of this,” he said. He added that revenues from tickets should defray the cost of the patrols.

Williams said that the fines run from $400 to $600 per ticket, and that he had spoken with the Assistant District Attorney Laurie James, who promised cooperation.

The patrols are expected to begin within the next couple of weeks, Williams told Lincoln Parish News Online.

The committee also renewed for two more years the contract with Crochet Equipment Company to operate a woodwaste disposal facility at the Lincoln Parish Landfill. The original contract had a clause that would allow the jury to buy the equipment if it so choose, which it did not.

See here the contract.

The full jury passed a resolution and had a moment of silence to remember former juror Annie Brown, who died on July 5. Brown served on the jury for twelve years, from 2000 to 2012.

See here the resolution.

Lincoln Parish Police Jury Meets Tuesday

07/10/2017

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury is set to meet Tuesday, July 11, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor. Here are the agendas and meeting times for the committees.

Solid Waste & Recycling Committee – 5:30 PM
Agenda

Personnel/Benefits Committee – 6:00 PM
Agenda

Parks, Recreation & Tourism Committee – 6:30 PM
Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM
Agenda

LPPJ Seeks Loan for New Construction @ “Angola North”

06/20/2017

One other item of interest to come from last Tuesday night’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) meeting was that the jury will be applying for a Rural Development loan for new construction at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center (Angola North).

The $2 1/2 million dollar expansion would add just under 100 beds at the facility. Lincoln Parish Sheriff Mike Stone has been actively lobbying the jury to fund the construction, claiming that funding from the Department of Corrections for housing state prisoners would more than pay for the construction.

Jury Treasurer Laura Hartt said Argent Financial had been engaged to provide advice on the application to Rural Development. She said the proposed loan could go before the State Bond Commission at their August meeting.

All borrowing by any Louisiana public entity must first get approval from the commission.

LPPJ Meeting Details

06/14/2017

It was towards the end of last night’s Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) meeting agenda that the Lincoln Hall lease buyout issue was discussed.

Jury Administrator Courtney Hall began by saying that Burton Enterprises’ Carl Burton had sent another letter with an offer to terminate his lease with the jury, and that the lease termination agreement was a response to that offer.

Said Hall, “I did talk to most of the jurors at the time that offer was made, and thought that I had received kind of the go ahead to prepare these documents and at least get something on the table to get voted on.”

Hall went on to say that the hall could be utilized by the North Louisiana Exhibition Center as a feasible venue for generating income for the center.

“This should not be considered a loan to be paid back, but the contribution of an underutilized asset that will provide a long-term source of additional income for the expo center,” he opined.

However, that latest offer from Burton has not been made public, nor has it been discussed in an open jury meeting. Additionally, the jury as a whole had never voted to authorize Hall to negotiate any settlement with Burton, nor draft any termination agreement.

In the discussion, juror Sharyon Mayfield said that all the monies generated shouldn’t all go the expo center, but that some should be used to “pay back” at least some of the purchase price.

Juror Skip Russell asked from what fund the $200 thousand would be taken, to which Treasurer Laura Hartt replied that it would come from money that would otherwise go into the Courthouse Capital Fund. That fund normally is used for upkeep of the courthouse building, and other parish-owned properties, or new building construction.

Lincoln Parish News Online readers will recall that was the fund that was often raided to pay for significant capital improvements at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center over the past several years.

Perhaps had that fund been left undisturbed and allowed to grow for a while, that new courthouse building so coveted by local judges and lawyers would actually be a possibility, rather than just a dream.

Jury President Randy Roberson reminded the jurors that proper procedures should be followed and that for discussion to continue, a motion and a second should first be made.

With that, juror Hazel Hunter made a motion to table, seconded by David Hammons. After a bit more discussion on some questions yet to be answered, it passed unanimously. Two jurors were absent, Jody Backus and Nancy Wilson.

One of the questions was the actual value of the lease, plus furniture and fixtures, and some legal issues.

In other business, Hartt reported that through the first five months of the year, budget revenues and expenditures were in line with original projections.

LPPJ Votes to Table Lincoln Hall Lease Buyout

06/13/2017

The Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) tonight voted unanimously to table a lease termination agreement to buy out the remaining 15 years of an operating lease for Lincoln Hall, a banquet facility located adjacent to the Lincoln Parish Exhibition Center.

We will have full details tomorrow.

LPPJ to Blow $200 Thousand Taxpayer Dollars on Lincoln Hall Lease

06/11/2017

Despite no apparent legal obligation to do so, the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) is proposing to pay Burton Entertainment a cash termination payment of $200 thousand taxpayer dollars for the remainder of a lease on Lincoln Hall, a 4800 sq ft dining and entertainment facility located adjacent to the Lincoln Parish Exhibition Center off Farmerville Hwy.

See here the proposed agreement.

Rumors are that the jury plans to have exhibition center personnel operate the facility and retain any rental income generated, but we have seen no documentation of that plan, nor have we seen any projections on how much income the facility might bring in.

The building itself already belongs to the jury. Under the original agreement, Burton now is responsible for upkeep, utilities, insurance, and operation. He pays no rent to the jury for the land, and can keep all income earned from the facility. As the property is publicly owned, no property taxes are assessed.

See here the tax rolls.

As a further insult to taxpayers, it appears that if Burton reneges on the original 30 year lease agreement , the original lease is void, and Burton is owed nothing.

28. BREACH: Should the premises be vacated or abandoned by BURTON, POLICE JURY shall have the right, at its option, to cancel the Lease, or re-enter and let said premises on such terms as may be immediately obtainable. However, prior to doing so, POLICE JURY shall provide BURTON with written notice of any alleged breach in the terms and conditions of this lease granting unto BURTON a period of at least thirty (30) days to cure said breach or default.

That original lease agreement was signed March 11, 2002

See here the complete document.

Apparently, some of the jurors have never bothered to read the original lease agreement.

Burton has tried before to walk away from his obligations before. In 2014, he proposed that the jury pay him $250 thousand.

See here the letter.

Last month, the jury unanimously rejected an amendment to the parish’s liquor ordinance that would have allowed liquor to be served on premises. Burton claimed that in order to sub-lease the facility to another private operator, the new operator would have to allow liquor service in order to be profitable.

The jury meeting will be Tuesday, June 13, Lincoln Parish Court House, third floor.

Public Works Committee – 6:30 PM

Agenda

Police Jury – 7:00 PM

Agenda

LPPJ Nixes Lincoln Hall Alcohol Ordinance

05/10/2017

Lincoln Parish Police Jury meeting – Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Faced with a meeting room filled to capacity with local citizens last night, the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) refused unanimously to amend the parish property ban on alcohol and allow Lincoln Hall to host events where it may be served.

The vote was 10-0. Two jurors – Annette Straughter and Joe Henderson were absent. All the jurors present – Theresa Wyatt, Hazel Hunter, Bobby Bennett, Randy Roberson, David Hammons, Walter Pullen, Jody Backus, Skip Russell, Nancy Wilson, and Sharyon Mayfield – voted against the proposed amendment.

Lincoln Hall was constructed in 2002. It is a 4800 sq ft banquet facility located adjacent to the North Louisiana Exhibition Center off Hwy 33, about five miles northeast of Ruston. The present lease agreement is in force until 2032.

Present tenant Carl Burton had last March asked permission to sell the remainder of his lease to Jimmy Shuff, and change the terms to allow events with alcohol.

See here the ordinance amendment that was voted upon.

Among the citizens commenting at the public hearing were: Henry Watts, Larry Bullock, Nell Manesco, Tommy Fredericks, Keith Huffman, Maggie Brown, Jill Parkman, Don Roberts, Joe Brown, George Parkman, Paula Rose, Ron Adams, Sandy Brown, Sonny Barnett, and Francis Grafton.

All the remarks reflected a desire to keep the Exhibition Center and adjacent area “family friendly,” and noted the potential problems that alcohol could cause.

Some typical comments:

Sonny Barnett: “I think having alcohol in that close a proximity (to the Expo Center), sharing the same parking lots, is not a healthy thing.”

Joe Brown: “When it starts taking away from the Expo and the parish, that concerns me.”

Don Roberts: “This place has a reputation for wholesomeness – good clean fun.”

Jill Parkman: “I have three small children. We’ve lived in different locations, and we made the decision to come back to Ruston. We knew that we wanted to find a place that we could call home and look to the future. We were looking for a healthy environment.”

In other news, the jury’s Personnel/Benefits Committee voted to begin advertising for the position of Parish Treasurer. Laura Hartt, appointed to the position in October, 2015, has accepted a position with the City of Ruston, and will assume her duties later this year.