Citizen escorted from city meeting

Published 9:05 am Friday, September 4, 2015

Tuesday’s Bogalusa City Council meeting had more than its share of confrontational comments from citizens, concerning how the council conducts its business.

Deputy Marshal Lavon Seals had to calm down an angry citizen during that meeting. Seals was pressed into duty twice Tuesday, including escorting one audience member from the chambers when he refused to discuss the matter at hand and went off in another direction.

There was a meeting of the minds at one point. Long-time council observer Fate Ferrell has complained for years about rundown property near his home on Dewitt Street. Councilman at-large Doug Ritchie said he would help Ferrell clean up the property, beginning this morning.

A resolution to promote Personnel/Projects Assistant Judy Gray to director of personnel to replace Sandy Bloom drew some pointed questions before the resolution was accepted. Bloom retired approximately four months ago.

One citizen asked if the position had been advertised. District A Councilwoman Gloria Kates produced the March 22 edition of The Daily News as evidence.

“I did interview for the position,” Mayor Wendy Perrette said. “It was advertised and interviewed for. It’s an appointed position. Technically, I didn’t have to advertise for the position. This hiring was like killing two birds with one stone. She worked alongside Ms. Bloom for years. ”

Gray has been with the city for over 30 years. Perrette said 12 individuals applied for the vacancy.

Ferrell argued with Perrette over Gray’s qualifications.

“It’s time to hire somebody capable of running this city,” Ferrell said.

District C Councilman Brian McCree said he supported Gray’s hiring.

“She has an excellent work ethic,” McCree said. “She has my support.”

In other business, the council:

• Approved an ordinance authorizing Perrette to acquire by purchase of expropriation ownership of parcels of property needed for construction and maintenance of the south runway overrun at George Carr Memorial Airport.

• Heard from Chester Winburn, who addressed the council on behalf of property owner William Leonard of Ponchatoula. Winburn asked the council for fair market value for the property, located at 1515 Van Buren Ave., which the previous administration appraised for $21,000 for four lots. Leonard has been offered from $9,000 to $21,000 for the property.

  Approved an ordinance authorizing Perrette to lease with The Salvage Store at 209 Industrial Parkway provisions to expand the current location and install a cooler/freezer facility in the new premises.

The Salvage Store owners Ron and Derek Feske of Folsom were on hand. Washington Economic Development Foundation Director Ryan Seal pitched the ordinance to the council.

“Ron started the business 25 years ago,” Seal said. “The corporation and distribution center are in the industrial park. This is a chance for him to grow his business.

“The freezer will allow him to streamline his business and hire more employees.”

The council learned the business would hire 40 to 50 employees.

In relation to The Salvage Store, the council also approved another ordinance, authorizing Perrette to enter into a professional service contract with RCL Architecture for the planning of a cold storage unit.

• Approved a resolution authorizing Perrette to sign an application for funding under the 2016-2017 Louisiana Community Development Block Grant Program. This is grant money for an old waterline in the Richardsontown area that needs to be replaced.

• Approved a resolution to hire Professional Engineering Corp. to provide engineering services for Bogalusa’s Louisiana Community Development Block Grants.

• Approved a resolution authorizing Perrette to enter into a contract for the Phase II taxiway design at the George S. Carr Memorial Airport. In relation to the airport, a resolution authorizing Perrette to enter into a contract for the Runway 18 Obstruction Assessment at the airport was also accepted.

• Heard an ordinance that will be voted upon after public discussion at the Tuesday, Sept. 15, meeting. The ordinance would change the zoning of 301 Montgomery St. from A-2 Residential to B-Transition in order to open a chiropractor’s office at that location. The office is moving from 225 Memphis St. and has four employees.