CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury on Monday put off assembling a fully functioning planning body following months of controversy and a string of recent resignations.
Three people on the nine-member Planning and Zoning Commission resigned in recent weeks: Chairman Richard Howell, Bart Blackledge and Chuck Guerin, said Parish Manager Barbara Vail.
A fourth member, Buddy Foreman, is expected to resign by the end of the month to take a seat on the Jackson Board of Trustees, the town’s governing body.
The jury already had advertised for applicants to fill two of the vacancies, and 10 people responded.
Juror Glen Kent, however, persuaded jurors to delay filling two of the vacancies until a consulting group that includes the Capital Region Planning Commission submits a revised subdivision ordinance for the planning commission and jury to consider.
Juror Sean Smith also said the applicants should be screened by the Executive Committee before jurors vote to fill the vacancies.
“Right now, it’s a helter-skelter process,” jury President Louis Kent agreed, and he set a 10 a.m. Wednesday committee meeting to go over the pool of applicants. Some jurors got their first look at the applications at Monday’s meeting.
Land surveyor Lamon “Skip” Moody III, one of the applicants and a vocal critic of Howell and some other commission members, said each juror should be allowed to name one member from their district to fill out the panel of nine members.
Larry Hofstad, who also applied, and others in the audience disagreed, saying the members serve the entire parish, not individual districts.
District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla urged the jury to move as quickly as possible in naming at least two new members, saying the commission will need all five remaining members to attend future meetings to have a quorum.
In addition to Moody and Hofstad, the applicants are Larry Thomas, George “T-Man” Johnson, Alzatta Cox, Martin A. Macdiarmid Jr., Debra Allen Thomas, George Turner, Jimmie Underwood and Kenneth J. Welch.
On another matter, the jury agreed to proceed with the “chip sealing” portion of a road improvement project started last year but never completed for reasons beyond the jury’s control.
The jury needs $375,000 to finish the job, and jurors hunted around until they came up with $115,000 in the capital outlay fund, $260,000 from the Health Unit fund and the remaining $10,000 from the general fund.
Smith, Chris Hall, Jason McCray, Ed Brooks and Michael Cheatham voted to proceed with the work, while Glen Kent and Dwight Hill dissented.
The discussion of where to find the final $10,000 revealed that the jury has to come up with another $10,000 to pay the deductible on damages incurred in an accident involving a parish road grader.
Jurors said they were unaware of any accident and asked D’Aquilla to look into it.
“It was before my time,” said Vail, who took over from former Parish Manager John Rouchon in January.