CLINTON — Beginning new four-year terms Monday, East Feliciana Parish police jurors left the status of Parish Manager John “JR” Rouchon up in the air with several contested votes and some harsh words from his wife.
Rouchon serves as Police Jury treasurer and flood plain manager in addition to being the top jury employee, but the jury tabled the treasurer’s appointment, named Barbara Vail as jury secretary and interim parish manager, and decided to advertise for applications for the parish manager’s job.
After taking the oath of office before Clerk of Court David Dart, the jury voted 5-4 to elect Louis Kent as president and Sean Smith as vice president.
Kent said before the meeting that he expected Smith to be elected president on a 5-4 vote along racial lines, but prompted by presiding officer Edward Brooks, Smith voted with Kent, Jason McCray, Brooks and Michael Cheatham on a motion to name Kent to lead the Police Jury.
Jurors Dwight Hill, Glen Kent, Chris Hall and Keith Mills dissented.
Cheatham and Glen Kent are the jury’s newest members, succeeding Larry Beauchamp and Dennis Aucoin, respectively.
Jurors said Rouchon will be considered for a new term as parish manager if he elects to apply for the post, and Rouchon said that in talks with individual jurors, he had made his position clear that he wanted to serve another term.
He said he thought the jury’s internal operations are running smoothly under his guidance, and he claims he is “a permanent hire” because he serves as treasurer and flood plain manager.
“I disagree. I think you gave yourself some of those titles,” Hill replied.
Hall and Smith voted against taking applications for the job.
“Do I have until the end of the pay period to clean out my office?” Rouchon asked, and jurors consented to allow him to remove his personal belongings from the office through Saturday.
The jury also decided to let the Finance and Personnel committees discuss whether Rouchon will remain a parish employee even if he does not return as parish manager or treasurer.
Rouchon’s wife, Diane, used a vulgarity several times to berate the jury for its action against her husband and for appointing Vail as the interim parish manager.
“She doesn’t live here,” Diane Rouchon said, but Hill said Vail is a registered East Feliciana Parish voter.
“We’ve already been through this,” Hill said.
Jurors also couldn’t make a final decision on a complaint by Donna Allen that the jury is inconsistent in making appointments to parish boards and commissions by varying the wording and number of advertisements of vacancies, specifying the length of the terms appointees will serve and when the jury votes to fill vacancies.
Jurors, with two lame duck members, voted last month to replace Allen on Gas Utility District 2’s board with Johnny Strain.
Although the jury decided to seek a formal opinion on the matter from District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla, Hall said Strain is now on the board.
“I want to say congratulations again to Mr. Johnny Strain,” said Hall, who pushed for his appointment last month, saying Strain will stand up to the district’s chief executive, School Board president Michael Bradford.