Story by staff reporter Nora Drenner
The Natchitoches Parish Council quickly got down to business during its first genuine meeting of the year on Jan. 27. The council’s previous meeting earlier in the month was to set this meeting date.
First on the agenda was the election of officers with John Salter named chairman and Chris Paige returning as vice-chairman. With the gavel in hand, Salter promptly asked the board to consider appointments to various boards and commissions.
Approved by the council were the appointment of Mark Custis and Steven Newbury to the Fire District No. board 4. Custis is a reappointment and Newbury replaced William Dowdy who chose not to serve again. On the Fire District No. 6 Board, Joseph Bynog replaced Richard Stampley who stepped down after 10 years.
Also seeing a change was the Tourist Commission with Landon Amber replacing Greg Burke who endorsed Amber. Lastly, Sammiaa Shields and Monique LaCour were appointed to the Children and Youth Planning Board, while Latnie “Trey” Brewton was re-appointed to the Saline Lake Game and Fish Preserve Commission.
In other business, the council:
–INTRODUCED an ordinance authorizing the transfer of title identified as the Breda Head Start Center to theSave the Children organization.
–INTRODUCED an ordinance approving an agreement between the parish and Save the Children organization for the purpose of leasing parish property at 700 Trudeau Street.
–INTRODUCED an ordinance authorizing the transfer of title of property identified as the Campti Head Start Center to the town of Campti.
–INTRODUCED an ordinance authorizing the transfer of title of property identified as the NSU Head Start Center to Northwestern State University.
—APPROVED an ordinance removing some .59 miles of Mink-Hutton Rd. up to the parish line from its road system. The request was made by the U.S Forest Service who will put a gate at that small stretch of road. Also cited was no other landowners were affected and Vernon Parish had already abandoned their portion of the road to the forest service.
–GAVE THE NOD to authorize Executive Director Sharon Harris of the Office of Community Services to sign agreements associated with the Energy Assistance Program which provides home energy help to eligible low-income households.
–SAID YES to holding a May 9 election in Fire District No. 2 who is seeking approval of levy which would generate some $22,000 a year.
–APPOINTED Johnny Salard as Interim Director of the Department of Public Works.
–NAMED councilmen Chris Paige and Jim Kilcoyne to serve on the search committee for a director of the Department of Public Works. Rounding out the committee are parish president John Richmond and the parish human resources coordinator.
— AUTHORIZED an agreement with the Natchitoches Humane Society for the reimbursement of up to $5,000 for the year for expenses incurred through the humane society’s spay and neuter program. Noted was that the humane society uses a voucher system and application process for its program.
–ENTERED into a cooperative agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs for the joint funding of the local VA office. Total cost to the parish is $3,555 for the year.
–APPROVED adding Cyber Security Insurance to it’ s current policy at a cost of $4,829 a year.
— CHANGED its Feb. 17 meeting date to Feb. 24 due to the Presidents Day holiday.
Lastly, in a split decision, the council said no to having a legislative audit completed on the financial records. Those voting nay were councilmen Chris Paige, Jim Kilcoyne and Marty Cheatwood. The consensus of the three was the additional audit is not necessary as the financials are currently audited yearly as per state statutes. Additionally, noted Paige, a specific reason regarding what you are concerned about and looking for had to be given, and he was unaware of any specifics. Councilman John Salter and councilwoman Patsy Ward-Hoover gave no reason for their yes vote.