Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

LA Student of the Year from A. E. Phillps Lab


Melissa Le (ctr) with parents Van Tran Le (L) & Son Anh Le (R)

A. E. Phillips Lab School eighth-grader Melissa Le, who was recently named state Middle School Student of the Year at a Baton Rouge ceremony, was recognized at last night’s Lincoln Parish School Board meeting.

LPSB Comunications Coordinator Brandon Sutherland said that Le competed against 7 other students from around Louisiana. He noted that she participates in numerous extra curricular activities to include student council, National Junior Honor Society, choir, and competitions like Mathcounts, robotics and the Science Olympiad.

District Superintendent Ricky Durrett said the ceremony in Baton Rouge was preceded by her recognition on the floor of the Louisiana House of Representatives.

New Glenview Elementary Principal Phaedra Blake was introduced to the board. A Lincoln parish native, she will assume that position after the end of the school year.

Durrett said she was unanimously selected by a committee consisting of several district staffers. They interviewed seven applicants, Durrett said.

She replaces Sheila Nugent, who will assume the newly created position of Facilitator of Federal Programs at the central office.

See here the all the personnel changes for the month.

Amy Tynes, with the Monroe CPA firm of Allen, Green & Williamson presented the district’s annual audit.

Tynes said that the district’s books were in order and fairly represent the actual financial state of the district. In CPA talk, that translates to an “unmodified” opinion.

No findings were recorded.

Ruston-based Company to build $240M Sawmill in Bienville Parish


(RUSTON, LA) Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Hunt Forest Products co-owner James D. Hunt and Tolko President and CEO Brad Thorlakson announced that the companies will develop a new $240 million sawmill in Bienville Parish. Resulting from the collaboration of these two companies, the joint venture company will create 130 direct new jobs, with an average salary of $57,400, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development (LED) estimates the new sawmill will result in 387 indirect jobs for a total of more than 500 new jobs in North Louisiana. Approximately 300 construction jobs will be created.
Sourcing timber locally, the state-of-the-art sawmill will require approximately 1.3 million tons of wood annually to produce an estimated 320 million board feet of lumber. The facility will be located on approximately 225 acres in Bienville Parish, near the community of Taylor, Louisiana. Construction on the new facility is expected to start in early 2022, with commercial operations starting in early 2023.
“The partnership of Hunt and Tolko is providing tremendous benefits to our state, particularly in the heart of Louisiana’s timber industry,” said Gov. Edwards. “This new facility will be a great economic boost to Louisiana’s Northwest Region, resulting in hundreds of direct and indirect new jobs across the construction, forestry, industrial services and retail sectors of Bienville Parish and beyond.” 
The sawmill in Bienville will be the second project resulting from the collaboration of Hunt Forest Products and Tolko. The two companies partnered to develop a $115 million lumber mill in Urania, Louisiana, in February 2018. Operating under the name LaSalle Lumber Company LLC, the Urania plant has created 120 direct jobs, exceeding the initial plans for 107 new jobs.
“We are excited to be bringing our second high-tech sawmill and the skilled jobs it will provide,” said Hunt. “This sawmill will provide a local outlet for the massive inventory of southern yellow pine that exists in this state. It will boost the local economy, bring a new generation of sawmill technology to this part of the state and provide another such outlet for regional Louisiana timber. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

The new lumber mill will be a foreign direct investment, or FDI, project, as Tolko Industries Ltd. is a 60-year-old, family-owned Canadian forestry company that produces a wide range of forest products for customers around the world. Based in Vernon, British Columbia, Tolko will own a 50 percent share in the mill. Hunt Forest Products, which is based in Ruston, Louisiana, will own the other 50 percent and will manage and operate the mill on a day-to-day basis.
“Our first venture into the United States was in partnership with Hunt Forest Products, a family-owned company like ours, and that has been very successful,” said Thorlakson. “So, we are looking forward to working with the Hunt family again to bring another state-of-the-art sawmill, and jobs, to Louisiana.” 
LED and North Louisiana Economic Partnership (NLEP) began working with Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries on a new sawmill in North Louisiana in October 2020. To secure the project, the State of Louisiana offered the companies a competitive incentive package that includes the comprehensive services of LED FastStart® – ranked the No. 1 workforce development program in the nation for the past 11 years. FastStart will work in coordination with Bossier Parish Community College, or BPCC, to build and equip the local workforce with the skills required for the new state-of the-art sawmill. The package also includes a performance-based grant of $2 million, subject to the companies reaching specified investment and payroll benchmarks. The companies are expected to utilize the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs for the sawmill.
“We are absolutely delighted to hear of the proposed project to develop a new state-of-the-art mill in Bienville Parish,” said President William “Bill” Sims of the Bienville Parish Police Jury. “The Bienville Parish Police Jury will do whatever it takes to encourage economic development in our parish and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries.”
“This new, state-of-the-art sawmill will make a notable impact in Bienville Parish,” said Justyn Dixon, NLEP President and CEO. “Where a strong company chooses to invest speaks highly of that geographic location, and we are proud to serve a community suitable for this great partnership. Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries deciding to make this substantial investment and new job creation into North Louisiana solidifies NLEP’s message that our region is a prime location for companies to grow and succeed. We gladly welcome this additional investment to North Louisiana.”
About North Louisiana Economic Partnership
North Louisiana Economic Partnership, an Accredited Economic Development Organization, provides professional economic development services to a 14-parish region of North Louisiana, including lead generation and prospect management. The organization also represents the interests of North Louisiana with a unified voice and as a single point of contact. It acts as a catalyst, a convener, and a connector in the region to ensure that North Louisiana’s economic development potential is realized. Its vision is for North Louisiana to be a thriving region-a destination for high quality talent, innovative companies, and global investment. Visit for more information.
About Hunt Forest Products
Hunt Forest Products L.L.C. is a full service wood products company founded in 1978 with the purpose of providing quality products and superior service.  We manufacture a variety of plywood, lumber, and other specialty wood products, and whatever the specification, we can meet your needs. Hunt Forest Products is a family owned and operated company practicing sustainable forestry, and we are certified by the American Tree Farm System and APA – The Engineered Wood Association. For more information:
About Tolko
Tolko is a leading manufacturer of a wide range of forest products for customers around the world, including lumber, plywood and veneer oriented strand board co-products, biomass power and a growing number of specialty wood products.  For more than 60 years, our family-owned company has delivered reliability, flexibility, efficiency and quality.  We hold third-party certification on the forestlands we sustainably manage in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan and we play an active role in the communities where our employees live and work. For more information:

More Belton/LSP Inconsistencies


After dissecting the conversation Thursday between Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney John F. K. Belton and Greene family attorney Lee Merritt – as reported by The (Baton Rouge) Advocate – we note this comment:

The prosecutor said his office had only recently received the complete investigative file from State Police, and was going over the evidence with the intent of presenting it to a state grand jury, Merritt said.

Wait a minute. Didn’t the Louisiana State Police claim last Friday that Belton received the file in August, 2019, and that a couple of weeks later said nothing further was needed?

From KNOE-TV8:

08/20/19 – CID-Monroe submits case to the Lincoln Parish DA

09/09/19 – CID-Monroe follows up with DA, nothing further needed

The next day, The Advocate drops this tidbit:

Belton called East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore for advice soon after Greene’s death, Moore said.

So Louisiana Taxpayers pay Belton over $200 thousand/year (2019 audit, pg 48), and who is granted full constitutional authority of “original jurisdiction” in all criminal matters, and he has to seek advice from another DA?

Eleven days ago, Belton said:

“Ethically, I am prevented from making any extrajudicial comments while this matter is under investigation.”

But Friday, he’s merrily blabbing away to the local daily:

“I indicated to them I’m going to wait on the independent investigation to be completed by the (federal) Department of Justice and additional evidence before I consider presenting anything to a grand jury,” Belton said Friday.

Today, The Shreveport Times’ Prentiss Smith said it thus:

“The question still remains, what did District Attorney John Belton know, and when did he know it? And if he did know about it, why didn’t he do something about it, and if he didn’t know about it, why didn’t he know about it, as the highest law-enforcement officer in the parish? This is his jurisdiction, and he should be doing everything he can to get to the truth.”

One last thing. How come the Louisiana State Police gets to investigate itself? Fiscal audits of all Louisiana governmental entities are conducted by independent financial professionals. And those are for mere money.

Shouldn’t investigations of potential criminal wrongdoing be done by an agency other than those suspected of the wrongdoing?

Greene Family Attorney: LSP, Belton still Dragging their Feet


From The (Baton Rouge) Advocate – Thursday, May 27, 2021

Greene Family Attorney S. Lee Merritt:

Merritt said he met with John Belton, the district attorney whose jurisdiction includes Union and Lincoln Parishes, earlier Thursday. Merritt said the prosecutor indicated arrest warrants would have to come from State Police themselves because the agency had not turned over the complete file to his office. 

“We asked Mr. Belton quite frankly and quite directly: Was he ready for a judge to sign a warrant for the arrests of the men involved in the crimes?” Merritt said. “He indicated that the state police had still not turned over a complete file and that the State Police would be required to make an arrest. We simply reject that.”

3rd JDDA “…no materials responsive to your request.”


Earlier in the week, Lincoln Parish News Online asked the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney for correspondence or call logs that might confirm DA John Belton’s claim that he contacted the DOJ/FBI immediately upon receipt of the Ronald Greene case file from the Louisiana State Police.

Yesterday afternoon First Assistant District Attorney Laurie Whitten James wrote:

The Office of District Attorney has received your Public Records Request dated May 23, 2021, in which you request to inspect and/or copy “any correspondence or call logs between the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney and the United States Department of Justice or the Federal Bureau of Investigation on or about 8/20/19 regarding the above noted case.” 

The Office of District Attorney has no such correspondence and the Office of District Attorney does not keep call logs; therefore, we have no materials responsive to your request. 

If I can assist you with anything further, please don’t hesitate to call me at the office or email me.

See here the email.

Long-time LSP Monitor Has Comprehensive Ronald Greene Coverage


A Baton Rouge based newsblogger – Sound Off Louisiana – has been one of the most effective monitors of all things Louisiana State Police (LSP) for several years. You’ll want to read his story from yesterday, which ties recent developments into his previous comprehensive reporting on the Ronald Greene case.

LSP’s release of Greene videos provides answers to many previously-unanswered questions, especially when consolidating into single video as we’ve done at Sound Off Louisiana

Sound Off Louisiana’s founder – Robert Burns – is a former federal fraud examiner.

LSP Responds to Records Request


Wrote Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs Faye Morrison:

Your above referenced public records request has been forwarded to me for consideration and reply. Please be advised that we have begun the process of searching for documents responsive to your above referenced request.

Even though the search is ongoing, and documents of the agency are considered public records, the agency will avail itself of any statutory provisions which either exempts or prohibits production of documents responsive to your request. These exemptions specifically include, but are not limited to, those contained in R.S. 44:3 and R.S. 44:4. The agency will also not release information which may be exempt from release due to an individual’s right to privacy.

In accordance with R.S. 44:35(A), you are hereby notified that the estimated time reasonably necessary for collection, review, and necessary redaction of the documents which may be responsive to your request is sixty (60) days.

One the responsive documents are ready for your review, you will be notified in order to arrange a date and time to view the documents. If you prefer to receive copies of the documents, you will be notified of the cost associated with copying the documents.

See here the document.

AP: Belton didn’t know about Clary Video


Yesterday, The Associated Press’ Jim Mustian wrote:

Union Parish District Attorney John Belton, who is pursuing a state investigation of the troopers’ actions, told the AP he only became aware of Clary’s footage recently.

After two years, Belton didn’t know about a key piece of evidence in a case he was in charge of?

Belton/LSP/FBI Timelines don’t Match


Late yesterday Lamar Davis, commander of the Louisiana State Police issued a timeline of their investigation of the Ronald Greene homicide case.

Davis alleges the following:

  • 05/10/19 – CID-Monroe immediately commences investigation
  • 08/20/19 – CID-Monroe submits case to the Lincoln Parish DA
  • 09/09/19 – CID-Monroe follows up with DA, nothing further needed
  • 02/20/20 – CID-Monroe provides case file to DOJ/FBI

However, Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney claimed in his Wednesday, 5/19/21 statement:

“…on the day I received the report from the Louisiana State Police, I asked the United States Department of Justice to conduct an independent review of the circumstances surrounding his death, including whether any criminal or civil rights violations occurred.”

Looks like we are going to have to see the paper trail of signed receipts for the case files to determine who is telling the truth.

Local Races