Minden Press-Herald

Wednesday
Oct 01st

Arrests prompt jury action

After recent arrests of three officials from two fire protection districts, Webster Parish Police Jury members adopted a new ordinance on Tuesday that is intended to shore up legal loose ends of its various board appointments.

All parish-appointed members of any board that derives its power from WPPJ are included.

"This was done in reaction to the recent developments," assistant District Attorney and WPPJ lawyer Patrick Jackson said during a May 30 public hearing. "This is not something that can't be amended or altered if it becomes too difficult, too onerous or too expensive.

"The point is, and it's uniform like this throughout the state," he continued. "Board members have been appointed to these positions armed with very little information about what is their responsibility for public accountability."

Existing and future WPPJ board appointees will be required to:

Attend state audits.

Conduct unscheduled inspections of finances.

Ensure that the board approves all expenditures.

Hold at least quarterly meetings to include a published agenda, a review of expenditures made since the last meeting, recorded audio and written minutes.

Jackson also said appointees would receive training on sometimes complicated ethics laws.

"You just throw some layperson into this world of black and white ethics rules that really don't apply to everyday life," Jackson said. "That nobody really understands, and are 'gotcha' rules.

"Somebody picks up your check and they didn't eat with you and it was five dollars," he continued. "You just committed an ethics violation ... It doesn't matter that you didn't mean for them to do it, they 'gotcha.'"

Maps

Concern was also raised about the correctness of various Webster maps.

District 3 juror Daniel Thomas asked how a correct Webster map could filter out and replace existing outdated or inaccurate maps.

E-911 Mapping Addressing director Dal Taylor said their map was 85 percent verified, but GPS and other mapping companies wouldn't necessarily ask for it.

"The best way to look at our database would be to put it online," Taylor said. "In the industry, the way it gets spread around is it gets 'borrowed.' If you publish it somewhere, they're going to pick it up and use it."

Thomas also suggested that the almost fully verified E-911 map should be the standard used for parish work.

"One thing the jury probably needs to do in the future is to see that everyone we hire uses this updated map," he said.

Other business:

Ditching on Frazier Street and Sherwood Lane in Sibley was approved.

Removal of three dead trees on Catalpa Drive in Dubberly was approved.

A speed limit of 35 miles per hour was set for CVOC Road in Cotton Valley from city limits for eight-tenths of a mile north.

A blighted property on Amy Lane in Minden was discussed, and WPPJ voted to maintain the ditch in front.

Bill Altimus and Ronda Carnahan were appointed to two-year terms at Pine Country Education Center.

Fran Harvey was appointed to a one-year term as WPPJ Office of Community Services Executive Director.

Ora Rice was appointed to Northwest Louisiana Human Services Board to fill the unexpired term of Jerri Lee.

A contract for soil testing at WP Landfill was approved for Wayne Kilpatrick.

A 2005 Homeland Security vehicle was approved for surplus and sale at auction, according to federal regulations concerned with vehicles purchased with Department of Justice funds.

District 11 received approval for funds to purchase a recorder for its Fire Protection District and appraisal of Port O' Bistineau for a Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries grant.

 

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