CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury’s president pledged Monday to act openly and keep jurors and the public informed of issues affecting the jury’s operations.
Juror Louis Kent made the comment during a discussion of alleged verbal agreements between former Parish Manager John J. Rouchon and a company doing a road overlay project in 2014 that led to $41,000 in payments that the jury apparently did not approve.
“A verbal agreement means it never happened,” Kent said in pledging greater transparency in jury business.
The jury’s Public Works Committee met Friday with a representative of F.G. Sullivan Jr. Contractor to discuss jurors’ complaints about “thin spots” on some roads that were paved with asphalt material in 2014.
The committee members were expecting to discuss the company making repairs at no cost to the jury, but Sullivan representative Jessie Spence said the problems developed because the roads had not been planed flat, after jury workers patched potholes and the company put down an overlay of asphalt material.
The jurors expressed shock at learning that Rouchon had authorized two payments for repairs without informing the jury.
The payments should have been brought to the jury as a whole, committee Chairman Jason McCray said.
Rouchon said Monday the project engineer signed off on the payments, but McCray and Interim Parish Manager Barbara Vail said Spence stated the payments resulted from meetings only between him and Rouchon.
Further investigation revealed the two invoices that included the extra payments were not submitted to the Finance Committee chairman for review, Vail said.
The jury still owes $77,000 to the company that will be due when it presents a clear lien certificate.
In other action, the jury:
Voted to pay $6,900 to the attorney for three jurors that District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla sued last year, alleging a violation of the state Open Meetings Law. Kent said the “elected officials were exonerated,” but D’Aquilla said he dismissed the suit without a judgment because the judge had recused himself and he foresaw a lengthy, complicated case.
Referred to the Executive Committee further review of a dispute over the appointment of a Gas District 2 board member. The jury first named Johnny Strain to the board to replace Donna Allen in December, but voted Jan. 19 to rescind the appointment. Allen and Strain have hired attorneys to represent them in the dispute.
Voted to pay Vail $8.70 per hour above her regular pay as jury secretary to act as interim parish manager.