West Feliciana development director calls it quits, cites differences with parish president _lowres

Bettsie Norton

West Feliciana Parish Economic Development Director Bettsie Norton resigned abruptly Tuesday from a position she’d held a little over six months.

When contacted by The Advocate, Norton said her departure was “due to differences with respect to economic development philosophy and approaches” with Parish President Kevin Couhig.

Couhig dismissed the parish’s previous economic development director, Dennis Manshack in January 2014, shortly after taking office as parish president. He said at the time that he was the new face of economic development for the parish.

Norton was hired Sept. 3 and her contract with the parish paid for 20 hours per week at a total compensation of $40,000 per year. She replaced Janice Wynn, who also resigned from the position.

Norton said she put her resignation letter on Couhig’s office chair Tuesday afternoon because he was out of the office. It read, “It is with sadness that I offer my resignation as West Feliciana Parish’s Director of Economic Development. In my time as Director, I have worked diligently to improve the competitiveness of our Parish’s economy and to develop a strong, collaborative relationship with our Tourist Commission, St. Francisville Chamber and other groups. I am appreciative to President Couhig and members of the Economic Development Board for allowing me the opportunity to serve West Feliciana Parish.”

Couhig said he was out of the office at a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday and another parish employee informed him of Norton’s resignation in a telephone call later that afternoon.

“I never discuss personnel matters in public,” Couhig said. He said he sent Norton a text asking her not to do anything rash and was scheduled to meet with her Wednesday afternoon.

Couhig said he doesn’t plan to hire anyone to replace Norton.

“I think I will do the job myself for a while,” Couhig said. “I have some definite ideas about how it needs to be done and some ideas for how to see prosperity for our parish.”

Norton previously served as a confidential assistant to Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret for three years, in addition to leading policy and planning efforts for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

Most recently, she served as a management consultant for the TJC Group, a business-consulting firm. Norton received her master’s degree in public policy with a concentration in economic development from Georgia Tech.

Norton said she will continue to work as the association manager for Louisiana Industrial Development Executives Association and as a communications consultant with Louisiana Association of Non-profit Organizations.