CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury accepted a prestigious national award Monday for complete restoration of the parish’s antebellum courthouse.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a federal program begun in 1949, included East Feliciana Parish’s project for one of eight National Preservation Honor Awards given this year at a meeting in Savannah, Georgia.
The courthouse needed extensive exterior work and interior remedial construction to correct prior work that was contributing to the structure’s deterioration.
Ann Reiley Jones, who helped secure private and state funding for the work, said only a few Louisiana projects over the years have received the award.
In 2004, at the suggestion of then-Clerk of Court Debbie Hudnall, the jury created a volunteer committee, Our Courthouse LLC, to oversee the project.
The C.B. and Irene W. Pennington Foundation gave the committee a $1 million grant to stabilize the exterior, and the state provided a grant to complete the work.
“Without the Pennington support, we would not have gotten very far,” Jones said.
“You know this was not a one-person effort. Thousands and thousands of hours by volunteers made it work,” said committee Chairman Leslie Ligon.
On another matter, the jury voted 8-1 to approve a salary for newly elected coroner Laura DeJohn, the first the jury has paid in any member’s memory.
DeJohn is serving the remainder of the term begun by her husband, Dr. Michael DeJohn, who died earlier this year.
Michael DeJohn and two of his predecessors did not ask for a salary but collected the fees state law allows the office to collect for its services.
Laura DeJohn will receive a $30,000 annual salary and benefits, the fees her office collects and the use of a parish-owned car.
“We have been really fortunate to have some doctors who were good to this parish,” Juror Dennis Aucoin said.
Juror Larry Beauchamp, who voted against the Finance Committee recommendation, was unable to persuade the jurors to allow her to keep the fees but not draw a salary.