The Parish Council’s regular monthly meeting, held Monday, April 18th, ran like a well-oiled machine compared to March’s meeting. On the Agenda as visitors were Mr. Brian See with Road Side Inc., who spoke to the Council about vegetation removal services offered by his company; Carl Lasyone and John Markel from Grant Parish who updated the Council on House Bill 11 which, if it passes, will prohibit the open burning of munitions and waste explosives; representatives for the Natchitoches Tourist Commission who requested the Parish issue a Proclamation in support of tourism; Mr. Rayburn Smith who spoke to the Council about the condition of Clark Road; and Mr. Lawrence Sampey who spoke to the Council about his concerns with the operations of Fire District #2. Mr. Sampey was recently appointed to the Board and requested assistance from the Parish in determining whether or not FD#2 has been operating in accordance with State law.
The only parties who requested time to speak who were not on the Agenda were individuals, including Ms. Veronica Hargrove, who have had an ongoing dispute over the Shady Grove Community Center. Certain church members wish to have the dilapidated portion of the building torn down while Ms. Hargrove’s group wants to have the building renovated and continue to operate as a community center.
Once the Council moved on to the adopting of the Agenda, Councilwoman Patsy Ward Hoover complained that an agenda item she had requested be put on the Agenda had been removed by Chairman Russell Rachal. Ms. Hoover stated that Mr. Rachal did not have the authority under the Home Rule Charter to restrict items added to the Agenda. Mr. Rachal informed Ms. Hoover that, according to an Attorney General Opinion (14-0173), “the president or chairperson of a body serves as the presiding officer and has the authority to set the final agenda for a public meeting. Mr. Rachal also pointed out that Section 2-06(G) of the Home Rule Charter required the council to adopt an ordinance providing a procedure that would give interested persons the opportunity to be heard at council meetings on any matter pertaining to parish government in accordance with state laws governing open meetings and that there was no evidence that such an ordinance had never been passed. The Assistant District Attorney present for the meeting confirmed that Mr. Rachal, as Chairman of the Council, had final approval of the Agenda.
A public hearing was held in regards to Ordinance 03-2016 which gives the Parish President the authority to resolve a court order from the 10th Judicial District Court which ordered the Parish to increase the salaries of the two court reporters. The order requires the Parish to increase the salaries to $40,600 for each position. Mr. Nowlin advised the Council that the Judges had informed him that they would not agree to anything less than the amount ordered and that they would pursue further legal action should the Parish not agree to the order. Councilman Doug de Graffenried was the only Council member to vote against the Ordinance. It was not reported at the meeting what impact the increase in these salaries will have on the Parish budget.
During the reports portion of the meeting, Director of Public Works, Mr. Nick Verret, informed the Council that the recent flooding had impacted over 100 roads around the Parish and that over $250,000 had already been spent on road repairs directly related to the flooding. Mr. Verret stated that it is critical that FEMA expedite its reimbursements to the Parish. He also reported that the Parish is experiencing problems in obtaining its winn rock due to problems at the plant and that the black rock road material is no longer available.
Following reports from the Director of OCS/Head Start, the Parish Treasurer and the Parish President, the meeting adjourned around 7:45 p.m.