On a three to one vote, the Public Works Committee of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) directed staff to proceed with drafting and introducing an ordinance that would permit patrons bring in and consume beverage alcohol at Lincoln Hall events. The operator of the facility wouldn’t be involved in the sale or serving alcohol.
Lincoln Hall is a parish-owned banquet facility adjacent to the North Louisiana Exhibition Center off Farmerville Road, and is operated by Carl Burton.
The committee also approved Burton’s request to sub-lease operation of the facility to Jimmy Shuff, who has operated a catering and “deejay” business.
Voting for the motion were Theresa Wyatt (District One), David Hammonds (District Five), and Skip Russell (District Eight). Voting no was Bobby Bennett (District Three).
When the full jury voted to accept the committee report, District Twelve’s Annette Straughter voted no. At last month’s meeting, she had objected strongly to allowing alcohol at the hall.
The vote came despite warnings by jury attorney and Assistant District Attorney Jeff Robinson who said that as owner of the building, the jury would likely be named in any lawsuit filed should an accident result from over-served patrons.
Said Robinson, “A plaintiff or a plaintiff’s lawyer, when they sue, the first thing they’re going to look at is where’s the deep pockets.” He added, “I do this for a living. I know how attorneys approach these things.”
The jury staff and attorney will draft an ordinance to be introduced and presented at a public hearing prior to a vote to adopt or reject.
Three years ago, Burton offered to sell his lease to the jury for $250 thousand, but no action was ever taken on his proposal.
In other business, the jury’s Long Range Planning Committee discussed several items that are to be more fully examined for possible future action, including additional beds at the Lincoln Parish Detention Center; improvements at the exhibition center; an animal control facility; repairs and remodeling the Lincoln Parish Court House; and a succession plan for jury staff.