Webster Parish Police Jury granted Cullen Fire District 6 Chairman David Stephens an extension for change in residency at December's meeting.
After a board member made an official complaint to fire board liaison John Stanley, Stephens asked the jury for a change in residency so he will meet the bylaws already set.
"Several issues in Cullen that are a problem at this moment: Year before last a $33,000 in the hole and this year we are about $39,000 over budget," Stephens said. "The board elected me as chairman a few months ago. I am pastor of the Cullen Assembly of God Church. I have a residence in Claiborne Parish. That is my home – my retirement home. I do have a parsonage that is afforded to me by the church. I have an apartment that is afforded to me by the church. I do spend time in both of them. If I need to drop homestead exemption on the house I own in Claiborne Parish, I can do that.
I understand there is a problem with residency."
Stephens went on to say that he received a letter from Stanley asking him to turn in his resignation.
"I am asking this board time to qualify for whatever I need to do to qualify," Stephens continued. "I have a plan together at the moment. I want to turn this board around. I want to do training for the department."
WPPJ President Jim Bonsall responded to Stephens' request.
"I am going to tell you, Mr. Stephens, all of the reports on you have been good reports," Bonsall said. "The problem is your residency. If you get your residency set up, then I don't think there will be a problem."
Stanley agreed with Bonsall.
"I think he (Stephens) is the best thing that has happened to the board in a long time," said Stanley. "I had an official complaint from one of his board members that said that he didn't meet the residency requirements."
Stephens continued to tell the jury that he wants to correct issues with the board (Cullen Fire District Board) and the fire department.
"There is an agenda in Cullen that needs to be broken," Stephens said. "There is a 'good ol' boy' network. There are about 18 trucks and none of them are working properly. They went to a fire about a month ago (with two trucks) and neither of them operated. We are trying to correct that. We are in the process of acquiring two brand new trucks, a pump and a tanker with a pump on it also. We have the newest – as far as the building – in the parish.
"There are board members that are causing problems," he continued. "These personal agendas have been going on a long time."
Bonsall said he appreciated what Stephens was trying to do. Bonsall agreed to give Stephens until the February WPPJ meeting to change his residency.