ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana Parish Police Jury on Tuesday voted 3-2 against paying attorney fees incurred by jury President Ken Dawson and former Parish Manager Ambrose Sims in a public records dispute with Juror Lea Williams.
Dawson and Sims owe their attorney $1,095 and asked the jury to pay it, but Jurors Otis Wilson, Randy Stevens and John Cobb formed a majority to kill the request.
Jurors Billy Shoemake and John Roach voted to pay the legal bills, while Williams and Dawson abstained because of their involvement in the lawsuit.
Williams sued the jury, Dawson and Sims earlier this year after she said the two officials blocked her access to the jury’s financial records.
Twentieth Judicial District Judge George H. Ware Jr. ruled that Williams did not file a proper public records request but chastised Dawson and Sims for not consulting with Williams to settle the matter before she went to court.
The vote angered Dawson, who said he would call a special meeting, rather than making a decision on his own, whenever an important matter comes to him.
The jury fired Sims earlier this year.
Other topics covered included:
NEW POSITION: Jurors voted 4-3 to create the position of assistant secretary, which Dawson said will be filled as “a staff decision.” Jury Secretary Sheila Smith, a 33-year veteran, is retiring in April and asked for someone to begin training with her.
The jurors elected in the fall will appoint a secretary when they take office in January. Dawson, Shoemake, Roach and Wilson voted to establish the post, while Williams, Stevens and Cobb dissented.
NEWSLETTER: A move to publish a quarterly newsletter for mailing to parish residents failed, with Dawson, Shoemake and Roach voting for the idea, and Williams, Wilson, Stevens and Cobb voting against it. Jury administrators published one earlier this year without a vote by jurors.
MONUMENT: Jurors gave representatives of the Society of Colonial Wars of Louisiana permission to erect a monument on the courthouse grounds commemorating the 250th anniversary of British West Florida’s establishment in 1763.
Society member Paul Haygood said the group will pay for a monument on the north side of the old courthouse.
NUISANCE HEARING: The jury agreed to hold a hearing in November on a motorcycle practice track in the area of The Myrtles that has resulted in complaints from area residents.
The purpose of the hearing is to determine whether the track’s operation constitutes a nuisance, but the session could be held earlier if operator John Moss does not agree to suspend activities until the hearing.