While the Parish Council questioned the demand for engineering at its meeting Feb. 21, Nick Verret, who performs engineering work for the Parish, said he is only able to supply an amount of engineering work that is directly proportional to the amount of work required by his job title as Highway Director.
In an effort to separate the job duties and allow Verret more time to perform engineering duties, two ordinances were up for consideration. The Council majority (Patsy Ward Hoover, Chris Paige and Rodney Bedgood) voted down both ordinances. They were:
- Add a part-time Parish Engineer paid an hourly rate as needed to the job description of the Parish Personnel Manual
- Remove Engineering qualifications and duties/responsibilities off Director of Public Works job description in Parish Personnel Manual
With all due respect to the Council, Parish President Rick Nowlin said, “This was offered as a way to satisfy demands to get more engineering work done. You’ve just made it harder.”
A resident asked about the progress on the Hampton Road overlay project, which the Red River Waterway Commission is funding. Verret said it should be ready for construction sometime this summer. The design work and plans need to be finished so it can go out for bids. The progress of the engineering work it requires was hampered by the time he had to spend working with FEMA for flood damage reimbursements. However, he did say that CoCo Bed Road and Payne Subdivision are higher priorities.
Councilman Doug de Graffenried asked Nick how long it takes to engineer a road. Nick said it usually takes a few weeks, but his other job requirements are taking away time he could be spending on engineering work. Besides running the Highway Department he handles administration, answers calls from citizens about road conditions, and submits applications for FEMA grants (one he recently submitted is for $839,000 in flood control improvements to benefit residents between Cloutierville and Marco). He also has to work with DOTD on certain projects. By mid-March he is required to find as-built plans for bridges in the Parish or go out and take measurements in the field to help determine bridge ratings, which Verret expects to last the next two weeks.
“I’m not twiddling my thumbs,” he said. “If these extra duties could be removed from me then I’d be able to focus on the engineering work that needs to be done.”
In other business, an ordinance was re-introduced to enter into an agreement with the Sheriff’s Office for the sale of the Parish building at 415 Trudeau Street and a certain parking lot to the NPSO. Paige made a motion to table the ordinance, which was seconded by Bedgood. It was voted down by Russell Rachal, de Graffenried and Hoover. The re-introduction passed and it will go into public hearing at next month’s meeting.
Paige wanted to table the item in the hopes that a better deal could be made with the NPSO. The agreement President Nowlin reached with them was a $200,000 credit toward the Parish’s outstanding debt of $700,000 for its pre-trial detainees at the Detention Center. It also included a suspension of an agreed upon extra $5,000 monthly payment for 12 months, which Nowlin said would put $60,000 back into the General Fund.
Other agenda items included:
- Reappoint Frank Fuller to the Natchitoches Parish Library Board, Clyde Masson to the Water Works District 2 Board and Michael Marbut to the Fire District 7 Board
- Enter into an agreement with Archon Information Systems DBA Civic Source for the administration of an online auction and sale of adjudicated properties program
- Execute all municipal resolutions requesting assistance in 2017 that are submitted in accordance with Section 15-2 of the code or ordinances
- Consider a resolution approving and calling an election in Fire Protection District No. 5 continuation of an ad valorem tax April 29.
- Execute a contract for waste tire disposal
- Execute a contract to provide for archaeological monitoring associated with the replacement of a damaged cross-drain structure on Tauzin Island Road
- Advertise for bids for the patching of isolated base failures on paved roads Parish-wide utilizing LGAP funds
- Execute an agreement with Gulf Shore Pipeline for the relocation of Earl Shaw Road and to purchase the required right-of-way
- Accept into the Parish road system a new street in the Deer Park Subdivision designated as Alex Avenue (FAILED)
- Solicit proposals and execute a contract for the undersealing of voids in abutments on bridges located on paved roads throughout the Parish where issues have been noted during DOTD inspections
- Execute a cooperative endeavor agreement between the Parish and Campti Field of Dreams to permit the use of tracts of land to support its agri-business development program (FAILED)
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