CLINTON — After the fifth session in a series of sometimes contentious meetings to fill the parish's vacant permit technician position, the East Feliciana Parish Police Jury on Tuesday remained far from a decision.
The Personnel Committee, after two meetings to review applications for the job in the two-person Building Inspection Department, had recommended at a Feb. 20 jury meeting to hire Joni Stone.
The recommendation of Stone fell flat, however, after Juror Sean Smith said he had heard allegations against Stone from a person "of significant stature" shortly before the meeting.
Other jurors said they also had received phone calls from the same person, who was not named during the discussion. Some jurors later revealed to The Advocate that the person is a parish official.
Jurors voted for the Executive Committee to investigate the allegations, which were not revealed in the discussion, but jury President Louis Kent later canceled the scheduled Feb. 22 committee meeting because he said the person who had called some of the jurors did not want to put his complaints about Stone in writing or to appear at the meeting.
Kent then called a special meeting on Feb. 23 to vote on Stone's hiring, but the meeting quickly descended into chaos.
Jurors angrily interrupted one another throughout the brief meeting; Parish Manager Sonya Crowe accused Personnel Committee Chairman Glen Kent of cursing her at an earlier meeting; and members of the audience repeatedly interrupted the discussion.
Kent denied cursing Crowe, but her husband, Kennith, held in check by sheriff's Deputy Kenny Sanders, warned Kent, "Don't ever cuss my wife."
Sanders, the sheriff's jail warden, later separated Louis Kent and former Parish Manager John Rouchon, who began arguing after the meeting ended.
Most of the anger was directed at Louis Kent for canceling the Feb. 22 Executive Committee meeting, with opponents of Stone's hiring saying the allegations should have been investigated.
The jury then voted to force Louis Kent to call the Executive Committee meeting to discuss the anonymous complaints against Stone.
Tuesday's committee meeting was much calmer, with only five jurors and a few spectators attending.
Louis Kent said he investigated the complaints and believes Stone did nothing wrong.
"We have no evidence. It was just hearsay that got out of hand," the jury president said.
Kent said he may have made a mistake by canceling the Feb. 22 meeting but said he did so because the person who made the allegations did not want to pursue the matter.
Sonya Crowe told the three committee members Tuesday that she has received complaints about Stone from two other people. She said she advised them to call Kent and others.
Crowe said she objected to the Personnel Committee's recommendation to hire Stone and said what she has heard since "concerns me."
"Some of what I was told, it bugs me," Crowe said before the committee voted to submit the Personnel Committee's original recommendation back to the full jury on Monday.
After the meeting and going into her office with Louis Kent and Vice President Keith Mills, Crowe announced in public that Stone is under investigation by two law enforcement agencies.
Stone, who was outside at the time, said she has no idea of what Crowe meant by the statement.
"All I've done is apply for a job," Stone said.