Parish Council: Back to the drawing board on hiring new Registrar of Voters

After a lengthy debate during Monday nights Parish Council meeting, March 18, chose a procedure for how they will move forward to hire a new Registrar of Voters for Natchitoches Parish.

However, this means going back to the drawing board. The Parish will re-advertise the position and notify the original top nine candidates that they will need to reapply if they’re still interested in the position.

The procedure agreed upon by the Council includes a committee comprised of Council members Russell Rachal, Patsy Ward Hoover, Clerk of Court Cheryl Fredricks and Cathy Creamer, which will interview all applicants that qualify for the position and bring their top three choices before the Council. The Council as a whole will then choose the top candidate for the position.

All of these decisions came after the Council received an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW).

The Council approved an agenda item to authorize the Parish President to continue temporary operation of the Parish Head Start program on a month to month basis for a period up to three months beyond the end of the present grant period, contingent upon confirmation from the Office of Head Start that expenses incurred by the Parish in connection with the temporary operation of the program during the transition to the new HS grantee would be reimbursed by the Office of Head Start.

The current Head Start contract with the Parish ends on June 30. There are two interested parties that have applied to take over the contract from the Parish including Save the Children and Pine Belt. The applications are being evaluated in DC, according to Parish president Rick Nowlin.

The Parish may have to pay unemployment if the new grantee chooses not to keep on current Head Start employees. Nowlin said worst case scenario, if no employees are kept on, the Parish would be looking at paying around $60-65,000. If half the employees are kept, the amount drops to $30,000 and if 75% are kept, the amount would be around $15,000.

Council member Chris Paige said the money could go toward fixing people’s roads and pot holes.

Another agenda item authorized the Parish President to sign and execute a 90 day extension to the current agreement with the Institute of Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) to be the Parish’s building official of record and to provide permitting and inspection services.

Nowlin said the Parish hasn’t advertised to fill the Director of Planning and Zoning position yet. Furthermore, it may be in the best interests of the Parish to continue with IBTS on a long term basis rather than staff up the office. With the arrangement with IBTS, the office could potentially be staffed with a part time employee.

An agenda item was introduced for 2019 budget revisions for the Operating Budget. Public Works Director John Richmond said the revisions relating to his department are necessary. He can’t get win rock for road repairs on a consistent basis, so one revision will allow him to get crushed concrete or 3×5 rip rap. Another will allow him to handle an unexpected retirement and an employee who was deployed overseas, leaving a vacancy in the department.

The Parish Council also voted to remove Benjie Colvin Road from the Parish road system. In other road business, the Council was approached by Derwood Duke and Scooter Perot to request a 50/50 cost share deal with the Parish on repairing Beau Vista Road, which is 500 feet long. The Parish is also in the process of fixing the first 800 feet of Kayla Drive with a similar cost share agreements with the residents that live on it. Nowlin said they are working on evaluating the cost and feasibility of such agreements, which will be brought before the Council for its approval.

Other agenda items included:

Approve Head Start COLA for 1.77% (total is $14,176)

TABLED: Declare a 1985 fire truck surplus and to authorize the Parish President to sign the title so Fire District No. 4 can donate the truck to Rapides Parish Fire District No. 18

Execute a certificate of substantial completion for the construction of the Hampton Road Improvement Project (SEE DOCUMENT BELOW)

Re-appoint Mike Marbut to Fire District No. 7 Board

Appoint Terri Marshall to replace Kacey Rodgers on the Parish Planning Commission

Re-appoint Michael Richardson to the Fire District No. 4 Board

Re-appoint Lauryn Sharplin to the Parish Tourist Commission

Amend and reenact ordinance to change the percentage of meetings a member of a Parish board or commission must attend in order to remain a member of the board or commission from “absence more than 75%” of the regularly scheduled meetings in any calendar year to “absence more than 25%”

Consider April 21-27 as “Drive the Jefferson Highway” week in Natchitoches to coincide with the International conference of the Jefferson Highway Association to be held in Natchitoches April 24-27

Award bid for grader blades to Talk Manufacturing Company and Silty Clay Soil to FFT Trucking Services LLC

Authorize Parish President to provide written notice to Schindler Elevator Corporation that the Parish desires to terminate the agreement between Schindler and the Parish effective Aug. 3 and to solicit proposals for elevator maintenance services

Sign and execute agreements with Hope for Paws and the Natchitoches Humane Society for the reimbursement of expenses incurred through their spay and neuter programs ($5,000 for each organization from the Health Unit Fund)

TABLED: Approve audit engagement agreement for 2018 Audit

The meeting ended with the Council entering Executive Session to discuss a pending litigation of Jacquekin Pier vs. Parish of Natchitoches in the 10th Judicial Court