NEW ROADS — The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury on Tuesday appointed former School Board member and local pastor Russell Polar as its District 3 representative for the next 18 months.
But Polar’s appointment was not without some friction: A small faction of the jury attempted to block Polar’s appointment, which was approved at the recommendation of former juror Russell Young.
Polar, 65, was appointed to the District 3 seat by a 6-2 vote, and he will serve the remainder of Young’s term, which expires in January 2016.
Polar’s appointment comes two weeks after Young resigned from the spot he held for 21 years. Young has said he’s walking away from the jury as an act of protest to the decision by the city of New Roads not to issue him a permit to stage a protest against the city’s police department.
Jurors Justin Cox and Kurt Jarreau voted against Polar’s appointment, attempting get the jury to appoint volunteer fireman Lawrence Smith, who lost his attempt to snatch the seat away from Young during the 2012 elections.
Jurors Ted Nelson, John Pourciau and Albert Dukes were absent.
“I don’t know Mr. Polar at all … but Mr. Smith ran in the last election and managed to get 150 votes to Mr. Young’s 250,” Cox said. “That’s a lot of people saying they wanted (him) as their representative.
“I’ve seen what Mr. Smith has done in the community and he has served on the fire district board for quite some time. He has a lot of history within parish government.”
Jarreau said he wouldn’t throw his support behind Polar because he felt it would give him an unfair advantage in the next elections.
“When we appoint you, we’re technically labeling you as an incumbent,” Jarreau said. “I would like to see it be an open race for (Young’s) district when next election comes. Someone would have to tell me they’re not interested in running for me to support.”
Polar, who served on the parish’s School Board for 16 years, replied: “I won’t be coming with a political issue, but to answer your question, Mr. Jarreau, I don’t know if I’ll run yet.”
In an unrelated matter, the Police Jury accepted a set of recommendations from the personnel committee that included a request to Assistant District Attorney John Wayne Jewell to craft a media response to the parish’s ongoing investigation into employee fuel card usage.
The Police Jury in July asked Parish Treasurer Becky Mayeux to launch a probe into the matter after several jurors lodged allegations that employees were misusing their fuel cards and possibly using them to fill up their personal vehicles.
Mayeux was asked to obtain surveillance footage from several gas stations where employees use their assigned fuel cards.
According to minutes from the personnel committee’s Sept. 19 meeting, Mayeux informed jurors that neither she nor the Sheriff’s Office was able to find any suspicious footage. The minutes say Mayeux also spoke with Jewell, who said there was no “probable cause” to pursue the matter further.
However, Fuelman is voiding all current employee personal identification numbers and will reissue numbers for the 38 fuel cards the parish has, minutes from the committee meeting state.
A surveillance camera has also been installed at the fuel pump in the parish’s maintenance barn.
Employees, on average, charge approximately $1,700 a month for fuel.
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.