An upsetting turn for the Parish Council’s meeting Monday night, Oct. 21, was the moment a resolution failed to pass. With Council woman Patsy Ward Hoover absent, and Chris Paige and Russell Rachal abstaining from the vote, it didn’t have the votes required to pass. The resolution was to authorize the transfer of the title to property identified as the Breda Head Start Center to Save the Children, and to authorize the Parish President to execute the Bill of Sale and any other documents required to effect the sale, as approved by the Office of the District Attorney.
It was stated that money has already been spent on remodeling the building and there are 300 children in the community waiting to be placed.
Rachal said that Paige is trying to place the blame on him for the resolution’s failure. However, Rachal had to face two ethics attorneys two weeks ago because Paige turned him in to the La. Ethics Board on March 6. They’re still involved in litigation over this issue and until it’s over Rachal said he will not vote on anything involving Head Start because he doesn’t want to end up back on the front page of the local newspaper because of Paige and his allegations.
Paige accused Rachal of voting to end the Parish Government’s involvement with Head Start because it was in competition with the daycare business run by Rachal’s wife and daughter. Rachal has stated in the past, in his defense, that neither he nor his wife have any ties to the business. His daughter does own the business, but has a full-time job and makes no money off the daycare’s operations.
Paige requested that the board determine whether Rachal voting to end Head Start would result in his family’s financial gain.
“You call it whistle blowing but I thought it needed to be looked in to,” said Paige.
Once Paige started discussing the specifics of their dispute, Rachal said ethics laws require that the only person that can discuss the litigation once a complaint has been filed is the person it was filed on.
“I’m the only one in this room that can discuss it tonight and by Mr. Paige discussing it, he is committing a misdemeanor act,” said Rachal. “I want charges filed.”
Another item that failed was a vote to go into executive session at the end of the Council meeting to conduct strategy sessions with respect to prospective litigation after formal written demand or litigation to discuss the litigating position of Natchitoches Parish Government in the matters of McMurtry v. Natchitoches Parish Government and Lynda Vance v. Natchitoches Parish. Rachal and Doug de Graffenried voted against entering into executive session while Rodney Bedgood and Paige were for it.
Other agenda items included:
Reappoint Jill Cox and Appoint Beverly Hodgson-Thoman to replace Henry Kinberger on the Natchitoches Parish Planning Commission
Reaapoint Mike Dawson and appoint Amanda Fournier to the Natchitoches Parish Fire District 6 Board
Appoint Jesse Rachal to the Natchitoches Fire District 2 Board
Introduction of Ordinance 016-2019 to remove part of the Little River Road from the Parish road system
Introduction of Ordinance 017-2019 to approve a budget for the fiscal year beginning Jan. 1, 2020 and ending Dec. 31, 2020 and making appropriations for each Department, Project, and Account
Introduction of Ordinance 018-2019 to give remaining part of Five Forks Road to the State
Introduction of Ordinance 019-2019 authorizing the acceptance by the Parish of a donation by Total Environmental Systems, Inc. of the Payne Sewer System to the Parish
Award low proposal for resurfacing of streets in Payne Subdivision Phase 1A to Regional Construction LLC in the amount of $83,055
Authorize Parish President to submit applications for Capital Outlay projects
Consider selection of projects and submission of applications for CWEF and LGAP funding by the State
Authorize Parish Treasurer to seek quotes for insurances for the Parish
Authorize the Parish Treasurer to seek sealed bid proposals for materials and supplies for the Parish Highway and Solid Waste Departments
Execute an amendment to the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the State and the Parish that includes increased State funding for the Payne Street Improvement Project
Adopt proclamation to proclaim the month of October as Dysautonomia Awareness Month