At the Parish Council meeting on February 21, 2017, the Parish Council defeated two ordinances supported by the Parish President. Both were designed to improve the operation of the Parish highway department.
Ordinance No. 001 – 2017 would have created the position of a part-time Engineer within the Parish government. The purpose of this ordinance was to allow the Parish to move the Director of Public Works, Mr. Nick Verret, to the part-time Engineer position, with a corresponding reduction in salary. As the Parish Engineer, he would no longer be occupied with road maintenance and could focus his attention to the completion of plans and specifications for capital outlay road projects and other road projects for which funding is available. The first three projects would have been Coco Bed Road, streets in Payne Subdivision and Hampton Road.
By using Mr. Verret on a part-time basis, the road plans could be completed at a much lower cost than using an outside consulting engineer. The Parish is doing the engineering plans on these projects in order to be eligible for the State funds for construction.
After a lengthy discussion the Council defeated the ordinance. Mr. Russell Rachal and Mr. Doug deGraffenried voted for the ordinance. Ms. Patsy Ward Hoover, Mr. Rodney Bedgood and Mr. Chris Paige voted against the ordinance.
Ordinance No. 002-2017 would have revised the job description for the Director of Public Works to no longer require candidates for the position hold a professional engineer’s license from the State. Had the Council approved the Engineer position, it would no longer be necessary to hire a professional engineer as the highway department director. The Parish would be able to employ a director with more hands-on experience in road maintenance at a lower cost than a professional engineer.
After discussion, the Council defeated the ordinance. Again, Mr. Russell Rachal and Mr. Doug deGraffenried vote for the ordinance. Again, Ms. Patsy Ward Hoover, Mr. Rodney Bedgood and Mr. Chris Paige voted against the ordinance.
In my opinion, both of these ordinances should have been adopted by the Council. It is interesting to note that the Council members who voted “No” on both ordinances have been very vocal in their criticism of the highway department and in the delays in road project engineering. One would have thought that they would have jumped at the opportunity to expedite the project engineering and have new management of the highway department. It did not happen. It just goes to show that logic and politics have little to do with each other.
Even though the ordinances were defeated, the Parish administration will continue to do what it can to complete the project plans and manage highway maintenance with the organization we have.
From Rick Nowlin, Parish President, Social Media